Becoming a Big-Picture Thinker

Tamara Murray, LPC, is a regional asset protection director for Walmart. She assumed this role in 2015 after spending nine years in store- and market-level AP roles for the company. Murray currently oversees 100 stores and is responsible for shrink, security, and safety-related operations. She also regularly assists in providing shrink training at Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. She received her LPC certification in June 2014.

This is another in a series of interviews with working LP professionals who have earned their LPQ or LPC certifications from the Loss Prevention Foundation (LPF). Hear in their own words why they pursued certification and how it benefited their careers.

Why did you decide to pursue certification? Was there something specific that influenced your decision?
I pursued certification for several reasons: I knew it was a preferred qualification for promotions and other jobs within the LP industry, I wanted to find out what parts of the industry I didn’t know, and I wanted those letters after my name.

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Tell us more about the process of going through the courses and taking the exam.
For me, the hardest part of going through the courses was making time for it. Your regular workweek happens, life happens, and suddenly you’ve gone a month without getting any course work done. I eventually set myself a weekly reminder and wouldn’t dismiss it until I had finished some course work that week. Once you’ve gone through the course work, the test wasn’t too bad. The scariest part was hitting that submit button knowing the results would immediately show up.

Looking at your own personal development, what information within the course helped you the most?
The course helped me to develop my big-picture thinking. Prior to it, I was thinking on a single-store or multi-unit level. The course exposed me to organizational and industry-wide thinking, which has helped to remove emotions from decisions and use creativity in problem solving.

What was the most eye-opening information that was part of the curriculum?
Having never had any experience with logistics or IT security personally, those sections gave me the most information that I was previously unfamiliar with and were thus eye-opening.

What benefits have you seen from taking the course?
I’ve made more networking connections having been certified. Whether internally at Walmart or externally within the LP industry, it does seem to open avenues of conversation when around others in the field.

If you could offer one key takeaway to someone currently considering getting certified, what would it be?
I would say do it—and also make sure that you plan to spend the time on it, so you aren’t rushing or feel pressured when your access to the course work is coming to an end.

How has going through the certification process influenced the way that you approach your job?
It goes back to that big-picture thinking. The certification process allowed me to have a better idea of the total process of asset protection, while at the same time demonstrating to me the need to teach that big picture to everyone, even on a single-store level.

How would you compare certification to other educational courses that you’ve taken?
I would say the certification is right around the same as other educational courses. It is self-led and self-paced though, so if you are used to someone reminding you that things are due, that won’t work for this. There is a good deal of information in the course, which can be difficult to focus on if you try to take too much on at a time. I recommend creating a schedule of how many courses you want to complete in a week or month and sticking to it, so you don’t get too overwhelmed.

Do you think getting certified will help make you a better LP professional? Why?
I think that it already has and can only continue to do so because continuing education is required to maintain certification. So you just keep learning and staying on top of the current industry trends and advances.

Do you think certification offers a professional advantage over those who have not been certified? Why?
Yes, I do. It changes the way you think and approach the business in a positive, constructive, and sometimes even creative way.

How has certification changed your expectations of loss prevention as a career, for yourself and for others?
I wouldn’t say that it changed by expectations, but I would say that certification opened my eyes to the wide variety of careers that are available within the loss prevention field.

Would you recommend certification to others? Why?
Absolutely, the networking with other professionals, continued education, change of mindset, and of course those letters for your signature line all make the time it takes to learn or refresh yourself on the material worth it.

Is there anything else that you would like to share regarding the learning experience?
Nothing that I haven’t already said. I just can’t stress enough to get in there regularly to do the work so that you can truly get the most out of the program.

Newly Certified

Following are individuals who recently earned their certifications.

Recent LPC Recipients
James Barbe, LPC, Lowe’s
Dustin Blue, LPC, TJX Companies
Nathan Bradfield, LPC, CFI, Lowe’s
John Bradley, LPC, Blain Supply
Corey Bowman, LPC, Walmart Stores
Jason Coffey, LPC, Lowe’s
Devin Conroy, LPC, Lowe’s
Justin Dennis, LPC, Lowe’s
John Fitton, LPC, Kmart
Jaime Forsythe, LPC, Big Y Foods
Scott Glenn, JD, LPC, Sears Holdings
Justin Henkenberns, LPC, CFI,
Restoration Hardware
Marc Johnson, LPC, Blain Supply
Ami Jordan, LPC CFI, Lowe’s
Albert Latham, LPC, Lowe’s
Jeremy Love, LPC, Sears Holdings
Demetrius McClure, LPC, Sears Holdings
Marc Mitchell, LPC, Lowe’s
Michelle Peters, LPC, Walmart Stores
David Plaster, LPC
Sherri Reid, LPC, Kmart
Eric Rutledge, LPC, Lowe’s
Ronald Scanlon, LPC,
MERS/Missouri Goodwill
Michael Simpson, LPC, Kmart
Joshua Smith, LPC, Blain Supply
Mary Smith, LPC, Lowe’s
John Smithson, LPC, Sears Holdings
Veronica Stafford, LPC, Office Depot
Mark Stinde, LPC, 7-Eleven
Stephen Tarbell, LPC, Lowe’s
Justin Tillberry, LPC, Lowe’s
Andrew Trumbour, LPC, Sears Holdings
Sarah Valentin, LPC, Weis Markets
Van Wysong, LPC, Lowe’s
Jon Young, LPC, Harbor Freight Tools

Recent LPQ Recipients

Kathleen Avariano, LPQ, Hermès of Paris
Tricia Barron, LPQ, PETCO Animal Supplies
Darcy Bohman, LPQ, IKEA North America
Matthew Clark, LPQ, Hyatt Corporation
Scott Johnson, LPQ, CVS Health
Nathan Suen, LPQ, Restoration Hardware
Mary Jo Tidd, LPQ, DICK’S Sporting Goods
Delia Valadez, LPQ, Sephora
Wollan Xue, LPQ, Columbia Sportswear

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