This First-generation Child of Laotian Refugee Parents is Proud of Her Heritage and Her Home

Maxine Hartley

May 13, 2021

Maxine Hartley is a first-generation Laotian American born and raised in Arkansas. She graduated from the University of Arkansas and now works at the Sam’s Club home office in Arkansas. This is her home.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Maxine about her experiences with inclusion at Sam’s Club, how she’s had continuing conversations about violence against Asian Americans and what drives her personally and professionally.

Tell me a little bit about your background and why you decided to come to Sam’s Club?

I am a first-generation Laotian American, born and raised in Arkansas. I am an alumnus of the University of Arkansas and have my Bachelors in Industrial Engineering and Masters in Operations Management. Prior to Sam’s Club, I was with Walmart on various teams over the past 8 years. I decided to come to Sam’s Club because I had always heard great things about the working environment. After joining the team, I couldn’t be happier. I get to work on projects that directly impact the clubs and the quality of shopping for our members.

Tell us a little about yourself personally. What motivates you, what are your passions?

My family is what motivates me the most. Being a first-generation child of refugee parents, I saw how hard my parents worked to give us a better life and I wanted to be able to give back to them. I am a big foodie and food is something that is really big in a lot of Asian households. My mother introduced me to a lot of things that we can’t get in the U.S. by re-creating dishes from her childhood that my sister and I now re-create. My husband is a chef, and we love to travel to immerse ourselves in different cultures and foods.

You are an active member of APAN (the company’s Asian American and Pacific Islander resource group). Can you tell us a little bit about why this is so important to you?

Being a part of APAN has allowed me to be a part of a community, and I stay active because I wanted to share that with other people. I consider myself to be a quiet person but being an APAN member over the past 8 years has allowed me to meet people I would have never otherwise met and has let me learn about other Asian cultures I was not knowledgeable about. I have always been proud of my heritage and am thankful that APAN highlights and show cases things from all Asian cultures.

I also feel like APAN brings to light issues in the Asian community. There is a lot of bias around the Asian community and different Asian cultures, so having a group that lets people address it, a group that holds listening sessions, and sponsors learning sessions so people can educate themselves is incredibly important, especially in the current environment we live in.

How do you feel about the culture of Sam’s Club and how it allows you to bring your full unique self to work?

I think the culture at Sam’s Club is very inclusive. I have been very lucky to be on the team that I am on. During all of the recent attacks on the Asian community I have had my manager reach out to me to make sure that I was ok. Having that level of support means a lot in these trying times.

I feel like I can share information about myself or my culture and people are genuinely receptive to it. And because I work in such an inclusive environment, I can share my perspective freely without worrying that people will not be open to my ideas. For me, the openness to ideas and the willingness of others to learn from me and about me have allowed me to be open and bring my full unique self to work.

To learn more about the company’s APAN resource group and our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts, click here.