Dedication, perseverance, strength of will, excellent leadership qualities, and communication skills—all are necessary to advance one's career today. One pharmacist, Eduardo Chavez, pharmacy district manager of Wal-Mart, has found the ultimate blend of these qualities, which earned him the 2008 Wal-Mart District Manager of the Year Award at the Wal-Mart Year-beginning meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, on January 23, 2008.
Chavez developed these skills throughout his life through guidance from mentors and challenging experiences. He was born in Nicaragua but began his pharmacy career in Miami, Florida. In the summer of 1996, while studying at Nova Southeastern University, Chavez completed a summer internship at Wal-Mart store #1996 in Hallandale, Florida, and knew that this was where he wanted to make his career. Shortly after graduation, in June 1998, Greg Nazareth, who ultimately became Chavez's mentor, hired Chavez, realized his potential, and quickly promoted him to pharmacy manager of store #2091 in Miami, Florida.
As pharmacy manager, Chavez faced immediate challenges, as the store itself was very busy, but the prescription growth was stagnant. He quickly tackled these challenges, calling his district manager on a daily basis to discuss financials, opportunities for growth within the company, merchandising tips and ideas, among much more. His success in this role led him to be promoted to district manager of the Miami market in September 2002.
As district manager, Chavez's daily responsibilities include ensuring that every store opens on time for business, conducting store visits and evaluating execution of merchandising plans, verifying 100% adherence to compliance matters, discussing business opportunities with store management, evaluating workflow and efficiency of the prescription-filling process, just to name a few. Initially, one of the biggest challenges for him was merchandising. "I was very clinically oriented in terms of pharmacy, but merchandising is not something they teach you in school, so it was a challenge," he said, "but at the same time it was a great learning experience—one that made me more well-rounded."
Chavez's supervisors recognized his ability to overcome challenges and his successes in daily responsibilities. Craig Smith, regional manager and Chavez's immediate supervisor, said that he nominated Chavez for the District Manager of the Year Award because of his overall financial performance; in particular, he increased his prescription volume more than any other district in the region and in the division (which includes the entire southeast—North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana). Smith also credited Chavez's merchandising skills—in fact, Chavez led the region in holiday merchandise sales and exceeded profit and sales plans for the year. In addition, noted Smith, Chavez "has been a catalyst in region 10 in driving OTC and Rx programs, with his focus on improving the customer's shopping experience." Chavez has also effectively used his leadership skills in assembling his team of pharmacists who are focused on saving patients money on their prescriptions and ultimately improving their medication adherence and bettering patient outcomes.
Chavez credits both Nazareth and Smith as his mentors throughout his career. Winning the District Manager of the Year Award has opened new doors for him—he has been honored to be asked to be part of committees that address present and future challenges that face the company. Chavez enjoys being a pharmacist because of the reward he receives in building relationships with patients. "The trust level that you can achieve with a customer can be even higher than the one between physician and patient," he said.
"There is no better feeling than to feel appreciated by a customer for a clinical intervention or knowledge you share with them."
Chavez is very appreciative of the recognition and is excited about the opportunities that lay ahead at Wal-Mart. "As a pharmacist for Wal-Mart, we could not have more exciting times than the present," he said. "With our current leadership so focused on health and wellness, we have been able to impact health care across the nation in a very positive way, lowering the costs as well as improving therapeutic outcomes through better patient compliance. The future of our profession never looked so bright with this company."