Wal-Mart VP inspires students to make a difference

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The senior VP of marketing for Wal-Mart stores in the United States challenged listeners to make a difference in the world by enduring to the end.

Andrea  Thomas, Senior VP of Marketing for US of Wal-Mart gives Jan. 28 forum. (Photo by Samantha Williams)
Andrea Thomas, Senior VP of Marketing for Wal-Mart gives Jan. 28 forum. (Photo by Samantha Williams)

Andrea Thomas, the Jan. 28 Forum speaker, gave four steps to successfully making a difference in the world: make your world bigger, don’t think or talk — act, have passion and courage and hold yourself accountable to do your best every day.

“You can learn so much about what to do and what not to do by interacting with others,” said Thomas. “Life can be a great teacher if you allow it to be.”

Thomas’ first step, making your world bigger, required asking more questions, meeting more people and experiencing more places. She advised that listeners go where they would not normally go if they want to learn about an unfamiliar situation.

Thomas traveled to various countries around the world to learn about sustainability and consumption.

“Making your world bigger gives you an important foundation, but you need to act to make a difference,” she said.

While she was the senior vice president of sustainability, Thomas traveled to parts of Africa to learn about the consumption and purchasing behavior of the local people in order to develop a plan of action for Wal-Mart.

Thomas discussed the importance of developing a plan of action, the second step, and being actively engaged in our lives so we can develop a strong point of view.

“I like her ‘do’ mentality, that if you want to find the epicenter of the problem, you have to stand up and go to work,” said Kyle Angelos, a senior studying finance.

Thomas said translating an idea takes passion and courage. Day-in and day-out commitment to never give up is essential because life rarely happens the way we want it to. When making a difference in the world, we have to make adjustments to our plans of action if we want to see change.

“You do not need to work for a large company to make a difference, but you must bring your best effort every day,” Thomas said.

While Thomas was a student at Brigham Young University, she set a firm goal to work her hardest so she could be successful. This hard work gave Thomas the confidence she needed to stand out in the business world and work for several different organizations.

While working for these various companies, Thomas learned to measure her progress in order to see change.

“I thought it was fascinating how she gave a global perspective on a company we are very familiar with,” said Alexandra Hild, a junior studying marketing. “I appreciate her insights on how to keep life balanced between work and family.”

In order to balance her personal life and career, Thomas focuses on the amount of meaning spent rather than the amount of time spent. She stressed the idea that full engagement requires being stretched beyond normal limits.

“Don’t limit yourself before you even get started,” said Thomas. “Give yourself permission to think big. It may take effort and focus, but the payoff is incredible.”

The next Devotional will be given at the Marriott Center by Elder Anthony D. Perkins, member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, on Feb. 4 at 11:05 a.m.

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