Authentic leadership is to be open with your followers about who you are and what you bring to the table in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
For Brett Hooks, ’17, this quote has truly impacted his understanding of what it means to be a leader. As project manager of retention and development for Walmart US Supply Chain, the sustainable supply chain management grad is responsible for the training and development of new associates at Walmart’s Opelika, Ala., facility.
“The weight of my work weighs on my shoulders as such a young leader,” said Hooks, who projects his facility will hire and work to develop more than 400 new associates during the 2018 fiscal year. “I try to understand, very well, my strengths and weaknesses. I wish to project my strengths upon others and allow others to help me develop my weaknesses. Understanding one’s opportunities for growth is absolutely integral to his or her success. If my time at Louisiana Tech taught me nothing else, it was how to be authentic in my role as a manager.”
His numerous leadership roles during his time at Louisiana Tech — including serving as Treasurer of the Student Government Association and as a College of Business Ambassador — along with his business courses allowed him to hone those leadership skills. Along the way, he has also learned to be a critical and strategic thinker — two qualities he noted are some of the most important gained during his time as a student.
“Dr. Kevin Watson was the greatest thought challenger I faced during my time at the University,” said Hooks. “After having students provide answers to a question during class discussions, Dr. Watson was, and still is, famous for asking, ‘Okay, but why?’ It is his way of challenging the way we thought. He demanded that we understand the core principle of the topic.”
Hooks learned to provide reasoning and data for his answers, and uses that skill daily in his current role.
“My current manager is relentless in his pursuit of making decisions based upon data,” said Hooks. “I didn’t understand the importance of utilizing data to make decisions and form proposals until I began my project management role with Walmart, but now I fully grasp the value Dr. Watson was trying to illustrate.”
In addition to his training and development duties, Hooks is also tasked with reducing turnover and increasing associate retention and morale, a project valuated at $2,200,000 at his facility and nearly $100,000,000 company-wide. The DeRidder, La., native also works with the continuous improvement team to drive standard processes for training that are being used throughout Walmart U.S. Supply Chain. This team of management consultants mentor Hooks in the practice of lean principles at the largest company in the world.
“Sustainable supply chain management is the fastest growing field in the business sector,” said Hooks. “It will prove to be the make or break for any business in today’s global economy. Walmart grew to become the world’s most dominate retail figure because of its devotion to the development and growth of its supply chain sector.”
Hooks’ opportunity to grow in the field that he calls “the big picture about the little things,” drives him to be an “integral part of the web that supports the company’s mission,” noting “there is no business unit more diverse or one that offers more opportunity for growth than sustainable supply chain management.”