Patricia Snyder's moral compass points true north.
After graduating from St. Ambrose in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, Snyder went to work as an asset protection manager for retailer Younkers. She quickly discovered she liked the retail side better, enrolled in a one-year management training program and started on a path that now finds her happily employed as a vice president for retail giant Walmart.
But there is more to Snyder's story than success in the business world. Snyder is an avowed advocate for diversity. She talks it, and she walks it.
"One of the reasons I feel privileged to work for Walmart is I am allowed to have an impact on diversity," Snyder said. "It is the purpose and intent of this company to have an impact - whether it's with women-owned companies or any other level and manner of diversity."
Snyder's current position as Vice President of Walmart U.S. Home Management is the culmination of 30-plus years in retail. Snyder joined Walmart in 2004 as Director of Apparel Planning and was named Vice President of Apparel Planning and Replenishment only a year later.
"The ability to have an impact with women is really powerful," Snyder said. "And when you see that affecting lives all over the world, it has a powerful effect. We are impacting people and communities across the globe and there is a tremendous satisfaction in knowing that a decision you make is something that will do right by those communities."
Snyder's sense of doing right and making a difference is inherent to who she is, but she credits St. Ambrose with honing the edge of her values.
"There is something about the environment at St. Ambrose that makes you want to achieve," Snyder said. "But there is something else, too.
At St. Ambrose, you learn a sense of responsibility that goes beyond your personal sense of achievement. It all is tied to a moral compass and it keeps coming back to a very definite sense of how you need to give back and contribute. That is certainly something I learned at St. Ambrose."
Fortunately, it is also something that dovetails with the Walmart corporate culture. Snyder said diversity is part of the fabric at Walmart, where executives such as Snyder are tasked with finding and working with companies that are diverse. To accomplish that, Walmart asks suppliers to register on the company's Supplier Inclusion Portal and then get involved with other company programs, like the Woman's Economic Empowerment teams.
For Snyder, all of the above is part of a dream job.
"There is a beautiful match of my moral compass with Walmart's," Snyder said. "Not only do they allow me to pursue that type of goal, they encourage it. I am encouraged to bring a level of diverse thought and do the right things. That sits incredibly well with me."
Snyder circled back to St. Ambrose as she reflected on her career.
"St. Ambrose creates an atmosphere where the potential of the student is only limited by their imagination," Snyder said. "At St. Ambrose, the lesson is limitless potential."
The same applies to Snyder's definition of diversity. "Diversity is not limited," Snyder said. "Diversity is many things. It's more than race or gender. It comes down to diversity of thought and I think St. Ambrose is trying to understand and embrace a future where diversity of thought is realized."