Texas A&M University’s Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School hosted campuswide H-E-B Day on Oct. 20. Executive leaders from the San Antonio-based retailer, including presidents, vice presidents and directors, will address more than 3,000 students in more than 30 classrooms across campus during the event.

“There is a tremendous culture match between H-E-B and Texas A&M. We both value history, service to others, excellence, people, respect, and leadership. Aggies who begin careers at H-E-B, both in stores and in corporate roles, thrive because behaviors that often motivate them to succeed personally and professionally are encouraged, even expected, at H-E-B,” says Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS).

hebday2015-2As one of H-E-B’s top university partners serving as a pipeline to talent, this interdisciplinary and educational event will also introduce students to various career opportunities at the retailer, which is also Texas’s largest privately-held company.

Freshmen through graduate students heard from H-E-B’s business leaders as they share day-to-day solutions for diverse, real-world workplace challenges for grocers, such as constructing stores, evaluating meat, globally sourcing products and managing technical systems.

According to Hollinger, the mission at CRS and through this event is to “showcase the many rewarding career paths that enable great retail companies to introduce unique products to their customers at the right time and place that encourages shoppers to return to stores as loyal, profitable customers.”

Executives from H-E-B coordinate with hosting professors to customize content for each class based on what students have been studying throughout the fall semester. By addressing classes across different majors – including marketing, agri-business, management, horticulture and information systems – the event communicates to students that the multibillion-dollar grocery chain encompasses all academic and business fields.

Ross Giambalvo, director of Manufacturing and Supply Chain Strategy explained H-E-B’s operational and financial decision making that go into justifying major capital investments. He challenged Supply Chain Management CMT students to evaluate expansion plans for an existing distribution center. To improve supply chain efficiency, H-E-B needs more space. Limited facility expansion would support two to three years of growth, however major expansion – planning five to seven years out – incurs interim financial losses from the facility being overbuilt for awhile.

Giambalvo reminded students that supply chain timelines in grocery are short, saying, “to preserve the freshness of eggs and milk, stock is maintained to only a half-day supply.”

Vic Nivens advised students to “be yourself” when applying for careers or internships. “Keep it real. It’s okay to be nervous, but take time to stop and think through interview questions for the best answer.” Nivens, the director of recruitment for the San Antonio Division, said that he looks for candidates to be engaging, energized, and with a great smile.

As a leader in H-E-B’s human resources department, Nivens said he believes H-E-B’s focus on its people makes the company unique. Store managers are given flexibility and autonomy to make decisions based on local needs. For example, his team met with partners (the term H-E-B uses for store employees) affected by the fires in Bastrop, Texas, to identify ways the best ways to aid them, such as hotels, supplies, food, insurance or mortgage advice. In a company that values people and community, Nivens concluded that his greatest accomplishment during his 20 years at H-E-B was “helping them get back on their feet after tragedy. At H-E-B we are a family, and that’s what families do.”