Thought Leaders: Sam’s Club

Q+A | Musings on innovation from the region's paradigm-shifting companies and organizations.

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Jamie Iannone: CEO of and Executive Vice President of Membership and Technology
Becky Schmitt: Senior Vice President and Chief People Lead

Tell us about the Sam’s Club Innovation Center.

Jamie: We opened this office in downtown Dallas last year. We have over 200 engineers, designers and product managers creating digital tools for every aspect of our clubs. These teams work on everything from mobile apps to machine learning to computer vision. 

Why did Sam’s Club open an office in Dallas?

Jamie: Dallas was an easy choice for us. There is a rich pool of technology talent, it’s close to many of our clubs and members, and near Sam’s Club Now.

What is Sam’s Club Now?

Jaime: Sam’s Club Now is a fully digitally-enabled club in Dallas, where members and associates test out new technologies. Members can purchase items through our Scan & Go app, be navigated to items on their shopping list or learn the backstory of our items through an augmented reality experience.

What makes your Dallas office unique?

Jamie: We’re located in the heart of downtown in a building that dates back to 1903. The culture of our office is fun and collaborative—team huddles, table tennis, free snacks, rooftop lunches and more are a part of daily life here. 

What role does tech talent play in Sam’s Club’s company strategy?

Jamie: Our company strategy is People, Product and Digital. The work our technologists are doing in Dallas, and in our other tech offices in the U.S. and Bangalore, is making a big difference in our ability to develop digital tools that reduce friction for our members and associates.

Are you hiring in your Dallas office?

Becky: Yes! We’re hiring for engineering, product and UX roles across a variety of teams.

How does Sam’s Club recruit the best technologists?

Becky: We operate more like a startup, which is an attractive proposition to use when recruiting great talent. Our technologists have the ability to test, try and innovate our platforms and technology in real time using actual members and associates. And, that’s not just for entry-level talent, we hire technologists with different backgrounds and levels of experience.

What other tools are the teams in Dallas building for the chain?

Jamie: Our members are busier than ever, so we created tools like Scan & Go, which saves them time at checkout, and our new Tire and Battery Center app, which shortens the time it takes for a member to purchase tires. One of their latest innovations is a voice enabled chat assistant that allows our associates to get the answers they need directly from the sales floor.

How do you hire the right people and what makes them successful?

Jamie: We look to hire technologists with different backgrounds and we make sure it’s an inclusive environment, so we can get lots of ideas. When more ideas come to the table, we get a better product. For example, we recently had a two-day hackathon in several of our tech innovation centers and the associates created amazing prototypes that we can bring to our members.

What makes Sam’s Club a special place to work?

Becky: We create an environment that allows for engagement with associates at all levels. Every associate can belong, be supported and be part of the big picture. We truly understand that giving our associates access to technology and integrating that into the overall member experience is the language of the future. We are on the front end designing this experience and showing the industry what it takes versus the industry telling us how to work.

Explain why it’s important to have diversity in the workplace and what it means to Sam’s Club?

Becky: Our member base is very diverse, and we think it’s incredibly important to reflect that diversity in our own associate population. Here, every associate can pursue a path to their fullest potential. We actively recruit associates with this in mind. What we see at Sam’s Club with our diverse population is that people genuinely care about each other here. Without diversity in the workplace, you’d have one voice with the same ideas. And we’re truly looking for many voices and curiosity—because every associate has the freedom to think differently.

A version of this Thought Leaders article was first published in Dallas Innovates: The [Tech] Talent Issue.

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Dallas Innovates The [Tech] Talent Issue, a special edition of the Dallas Innovates magazine, looks at how companies in Dallas-Fort Worth are attracting and retaining the best talent. From corporate stalwarts to startups, social impact and conscious capitalism-driven businesses to nonprofits, Dallas Innovates: The [Tech] Talent Issue takes a deep dive into the companies and people that are continuously making Dallas-Fort Worth a force for the future.

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