Finding the Code to Success at Wal-Mart

Wally works at Wal-Mart. It may sound like a tongue twister, but Wally Potts’s story is all business. In a little more than two years, Potts has brought in millions of dollars of revenue for the corporation.

Just weeks after graduating with a degree in information systems in 2011, Potts found himself in Bentonville, Arkansas, beginning his career with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Initially he worked on projects totaling less than one million dollars. However, upper management noticed his strong performance and promoted him to project leader. He soon began managing larger projects and recently received national project manager professional certification.

“It feels good to be recognized for a job well done,” Potts says. “Every day I work to increase the standard of living in dozens of countries by ensuring people can purchase goods at cheaper prices. That is what keeps me going.”

In the past eighteen months Potts supervised the fuel rollback project, an initiative to lower costs at Wal-Mart gas stations, and reintroduced the layaway program. By bringing back the popular holiday program, Wal-Mart had a net increase of more than $900 million in domestic sales.

In his new position with the U.S. customer store systems team, Potts interacts with more than 9,500 stores in thirty countries, working with four million devices—cash registers, controllers, and handheld scanners—with each update he initiates.

Potts says understanding coding and basic software development is critical to his success. But as an intermediary between the technology tools and the industry, he knows explaining computer terms in plain words is his business.

“My job requires me to have knowledge a mile wide and an inch deep,” Potts says. “I interact with business analysts, architects, and developers. I need to be able to understand what they present to me.”

Potts is excited for his future at Wal-Mart and the opportunities ahead of him. He loves spending time at home with his wife, Adreanne, and their young son.

Check out the summer magazine’s class notes for more alumni stories and updates.