From zookeeper to Kids’ Furniture category owner, Jenny Inzero’s career path to the Walmart/Jet family has been anything but typical. We asked Jenny more about what she does every day, and learned a little about monkeys in the process.
How long have you worked with us?
I joined Walmart in March of this year. I was the first person to be brought on as a Category Specialist. I began in the gaming chairs category, and now work on kids’ furniture.
What exactly is a Category Specialist?
It’s sort of a hybrid of a merchandise associate and a buyer. You’re working within several different systems to maintain the items on our sites (Walmart.com, Jet.com, and the other brands in our family), and given complete ownership of how your category is presented. Ultimately, your goal is to make sure customers can easily find and purchase the items they need.
“Complete ownership” of a category sounds intimidating—what drew you in?
I found that I had a love for entrepreneurship during my Entrepreneurship 101 class in college—it all just clicked. I knew that this Category Specialist role would empower me to run my own category business for Walmart.com. I manage my own profits and losses and have total awareness of my business so that I can quickly react to any changes. Plus, I’m learning valuable skills (like sales) that will help me drive my category forward.
What kinds of resources do you have available to you?
My team has been my best resource, and it has been extremely beneficial learning from them. We are about to begin training in some programs and processes that will help fill in the knowledge gaps.
What does a typical day look like for you?
As soon as I walk in, I check to see what sold the previous day in Kids’ Furniture. If numbers are down, I dig deeper into the analytics to understand why and make sure everything is functioning as it should be on the site. The rest of my day is spent publishing hundreds of items to the site, collaborating with teams to resolve issues, and monitoring my category as a whole to make sure it’s selling properly.
What’s one skill you’ve improved since you started?
I had no previous experience communicating and collaborating with suppliers before this job. My team has been really supportive in helping me build relationships so I can navigate confidently.
How did you wind up on this career path?
I went to school for animal behavior and spent about two years doing research at Disney World in Florida. Then I moved to California and was a primate zookeeper at the San Francisco Zoo.
I started selling Stella & Dot jewelry on the side and realized it was making me really happy to see the reactions of people trying on the jewelry I picked out for them. I had a knack for selling and connecting with my customers. Then I got an opportunity at Restoration Hardware and transitioned into eCommerce, which is how I wound up here.
How has your zookeeper experience helped prepare you for a role in eCommerce? Are there any similarities?
As a zookeeper, I was managing and analyzing a large amount of research data. Knowing how to work with data has been crucial to my success in merchandising.
Also, as a zookeeper, you learn a heightened level of attention to detail due to the fact that you are working with wild animals! This has translated to helping me to be able to notice changes in my sales—I’m able to quickly adapt to evolving strategies while staying calm under pressure.
What has surprised you most about working at Walmart?
I’m surprised by how fast we move for the size of our company. The goals we set are lofty, and the fact that we’re able to come together toward the same goal and achieve great things in a very short amount of time is cool. I know my work has an impact here.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
After three weeks on the job, I was assigned to the Gaming Chairs category and given full control over how I wanted it to look on the site. It became one of our biggest selling categories later in the year.
What skills do you need to succeed in this role?
Tenacity, attention to detail, and being adaptable. Walmart is the largest company in the world and as a result, we use a lot of systems to manage our assortments. I learned that organization is key—I’m a to-do list person! If you don’t have a plan for tackling things in the upcoming week, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed.
What’s your best advice to someone who’s interested in this job?
This role is relatively new and we’re learning things every day, so you have to be open to change, and have the confidence to take the reigns!
Want to learn more about the category specialist role? Check us out here!