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Zack Vinton, VP of Global Total Rewards at Walmart, joins Dr. Edna Chun’s Transforming Total Rewards Class

Zack Vinton, VP of Global Total Rewards at Walmart, joined Dr. Edna Chun’s Transforming Total Rewards Class last November. Vinton offered perspectives on changes in the workplace at large companies based on his experiences at Walmart, Nike, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Today Walmart employs 2.4 million associates globally. The challenge: hire and retain talent, provide flexibility, and strengthen employee engagement. Zack stressed that valuing employees is a cultural benefit but also a business benefit in terms of ensuring greater retention. He has seen significant increased opportunities for professional development of associates at Walmart, including the ability to move from the stores to operations and even to corporate jobs. Further, he emphasized the importance of the company’s reputation in terms of equity, representation, and pay transparency, noting that these values are “front and center” for new generations of employees. 

The challenge: balancing business and workforce needs with Walmart’s reputation and values externally.

Having been at Walmart for only 10 months, Vinton has focused on pay architecture—classifications now fit the work performed—and redesigning career levels. In addition, he identified the “wildly complex” nature of pay continuity given the large breadth of jobs, competition in different markets, and expansion of Walmart into other sectors like health and wellness and financial services. 

Finally, Vinton shared insights about his own background growing up in rural northern Iowa, where stores like Walmart did not exist. In his family, they saved every dollar, and when Walmart opened a store there, it was truly a game changer, enabling people without a great deal of money to maximize their spending efficiency. These experiences gave him insight into the dual responsibilities of Walmart to serve its customers and also its associates well. The lively session concluded with the graduate students engaged in dialogue with Vinton on total rewards topics.

About the Program

The Columbia University M.S. in Human Capital Management program prepares graduates to be world-class HCM strategists able to address changing needs in building and motivating talented, engaged workforces in the private, public, academic, and not-for-profit sectors. The program is available part-time, full-time, on-campus, and online.