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The turning point in Ulises Correa’s career happened during his tenure as store manager at Walmart. “I was perfectly happy where I was, running a store and being successful at it; I thought I’d be satisfied doing what I was doing for the next 20 years or so,” Correa said.

Julie Murphy, the regional general manager of the company at the time, visited Correa’s store in South Texas and spent a few hours speaking with the Puerto Rico-born manager. “Julie wanted to know me and my background because leaders at Walmart take an interest in other leaders as well as their associates. She asked me what I wanted to do at Walmart, and quite honestly, no one had ever asked me that,” he said.

“I remember her looking at me and saying that she wanted me to invest in myself. It was about how to take my career to the next level. She said if I invested in myself, whether through education or by learning something new and stepping out of my comfort zone, I’d be able to help more people.”

Correa realized that was exactly the path he needed to take and Murphy’s advice and personal interest was all that it took to motivate him. “After that eye-opening experience, my career took off really beyond my wildest dreams.”

Soon after, Correa began to earn several promotions including market manager, director of innovations, and his current position as regional general manager where he’s responsible for the development and execution of the company’s strategy across San Antonio. Correa also supports Walmart’s commitment to the communities they serve. In addition to his success at the company, Correa, who has two children, said Walmart helped him understand the value of education.

When he was 40, Correa went back to college and earned a bachelor’s degree in management and leadership studies from Lincoln Memorial University. “I moved to the United States at age 19 to attend college, but I got right into retail,” he explains. “Many years later, I had a moment of reckoning because I was telling my children that education was so important, but I hadn’t graduated from college. It was painful to accept that I needed to go back to college because I was raising children and had a full-time job. But, when I received my degree, it was the proudest moment of my life.”

Like many leaders, Correa stresses the importance of paving the way for fellow associates at Walmart and also those in his community, where he’s been able to open doors for many. “I’m very proud to say that Walmart has allowed me to attend many functions and also the privilege of doing my own outreach,” Correa said. “I’m particularly proud that in our region, we can invest in our future.”

For Correa, Hispanic success in Corporate America relies on putting others first in your career journey. “Many times we must be willing to put people who are better than us; that’s what makes us better leaders. Perhaps we might be uncomfortable, but we must understand that individuals don’t win, teams win. It’s a group effort,” he said. “The journey to the top can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be.”

“Often, we don’t challenge people to be their best; it’s extremely important to determine whether you are satisfied with the status quo of just being good. Are you a Hispanic professional who is satisfied with just being good or are you preparing others? It’s vital that we understand that the more you surround yourself with good people who have good goals, the better the outcome will be. I’ve never been promoted to a position in which I can say that I did it all on my own,” Correa said.

Correa explains that companies need to learn more about Hispanics, a group that brings great value to any business and their communities. “Walmart started a journey many years ago knowing that to be successful we have to be inclusive.”

One of the things Walmart is doing to promote Hispanics through management is identifying the gaps that exist whether it’s education, experience, or a language barrier. “We’re making sure that we are holistic in our approach. There may be gaps, but Hispanics need to know that it’s ok to bring your values, your culture, and your life experiences into a business.”

“I look at my leadership, my advocacy, as a great badge of honor,” he said. “I’m humbled because of the opportunity this company has provided me. I’m a different person today, perhaps a better person, because of the opportunity Walmart has given me to become an effective leader. For Hispanics desiring to improve their standing in Corporate America, they must be willing to step outside of their comfort zone. “We have to understand our value as Hispanics. We have enormous value to any company and any community. We are global, and we bring a tradition of value and hundreds of years of history. The sky is truly the limit for us.”

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