A Yucky Way To Go – Julie Roehm, Wal-Mart

I know there are two sides to every story, but reading about Julie Roehm anywhere leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. It reminds me of my first real job as a programming intern where I’d see an exec escorted out (two thugs on either side, a box in his hands). The e-mail we got about 30 minutes later would say “Mr. So-and-So has chosen to pursue other interests…” and then go on and talk about great things they could or would do (or something about take some time off). We all snickered (the intern group was full of snickerers!) as none of us bought the idea that they “chose” it on their own! But at least in those days, that was the end of it, we’d never hear about it again.

I kind of disgusted to see Julie Roehm’s plight all over the press and blogs (press = formal; blogs = informal) in the way that it is – I had never heard of her before but now I know that she is unruly Julie, a change agent, and she was the one at Chrysler that signed them up as a sponsor for the lingerie bowl. So she rocks the boat – I can understand that – business is crazy. But Wal-Mart knew who she was before they hired her.

There are a few lessons to learn here. Liz Handlin does a nice job talking about what we can learn – focusing more on company culture and termination issues. I love how she says that it may have been more of an issue of Roehm and Wal-Mart being “culturally incompatible,” as you want to make sure that you are a fit for the company as much as the company is a fit for you.

I just want to leave one little thought to chew on – what happens when “its over?” I imagine that many of my blog readers won’t be on the front page of any major newspapers, but still in small communities (either small towns or very tight-nit industries) the last thing that you need is some kind of smear campaign to tarnish or destroy your personal brand. If she were her own company she could take years to recover.

Roehm had a chance to make a huge difference at Wal-Mart, and I’m sure she was pushing many envelopes at once (isn’t that what she was hired to do? Wasn’t she brought in as a “change agent?”) – and that would have been part of her huge legacy. But now she has lots of damage control to do. I’m guessing she’ll play the “they hired me to do a job but didn’t let me do it” or “we just weren’t a good match”… and I’m also guessing there will be a lawsuit. I won’t be on the edge of my chair because I don’t really follow this stuff, but I found it interesting as a general topic.

What are the lessons to learn here, from an employee’s perspective? How would you handle the ensuing issues, if you were Roehm? (and notice we don’t hear much about “the other guy” – Sean Womack … hm?)

6 thoughts on “A Yucky Way To Go – Julie Roehm, Wal-Mart”

  1. Great article. I agree with what you said about “what happens when its” over. I am just shocked that so many nasty and unsubstantiated allegations about Ms. Roehm and Mr. Womack have gotten ink. So pathetic. And Wal Mart has the nerve to tout its “ethics”. Give me a break. I’ll take my business to Target thank you very much.

  2. Jason, interesting that I just talked about ‘cultural fit‘ in my article yesterday [10 Ways to Make Recruiters Love You (part 5)] and how great recruiters are as concerned with “what qualifies a company as a good fit for the candidate” as they are that a candidate is a fit for the company. I’m not very familiar with the situation with Julie and WalMart, but from what I have read, I probably wouldn’t have submitted her to the company because of fit issues. -Carl

    PS – I would have commented earlier, but it was poker night last night and therefore a very late

    Restaurant Recruiter | Restaurant Jobs | Restaurant Recruiters >> Blog

  3. So then the question is becoming “should you even look at companies where there might not be a good cultural fit?”

    And Carl, no excuses for not commenting earlier – you are clearly becoming “the second person to comment” having lost your edge as the first person to comment 😉

  4. Jason, it was 3:30 before we wrapped things up… geesch. I wasn’t even conscious when you made the post or Liz commented. 🙁

    My advice is for professionals to take inventory of what is important about the company that they work for and only consider those companies. Life is too short for a bad marriage. Divorce is unpleasant whether from the wrong spouse or wrong company.

    Restaurant Recruiter | Restaurant Jobs | Restaurant Recruiters >> Blog

  5. I hae also been in touch with Jason and loved the article…for a variety of reasons. One of which is Julie and I are friends…and have been for over 5 years. All she really wanted to do was change things…and while that was what she was hired to do apparently the Bentonville folks don’t understand the term “Change is Good”

    Speaking of which…I also run a networking group in the NYC area and on Feb 14th Julie will be my guest speaker.

    For info: http://www.nymieg.org



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