Skip navigation

SAIS Students Participate in SAIS Global Careers and Walmart Global Policy Challenge

On January 28, the Transatlantic Alliance and the Globalists, two student teams, won the first SAIS Walmart Global Policy Challenge, which took place over three weeks in January. For winning the competition, each member of both of the four-member teams will receive a financial aid award and opportunities to intern with various teams within Walmart.

The Walmart Global Policy Challenge is a competition created in collaboration between SAIS Global Careers and the Global Public Policy and Government Affairs team at Walmart. Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue, and with 2.2 million employees around the world, it is also the world’s largest private employer. With its global reach, the Walmart Global Public Policy and Government Affairs team is tasked with addressing some of the most complex challenges of the day: global competition, changing regulatory frameworks, climate change, evolving technologies, among others.

Twelve SAIS student teams, consisting of 48 students, participated in the challenge, which enabled students to gain real-world experience, skills, and insights required to help Walmart consider two major global challenges: supply chain resiliency and inclusive digital economy.

The competition consisted of several critical steps. In the early days of January, students in the Challenge were invited to take part in internal Walmart briefings and they were given access to several internal documents. As their first deliverable, students created presentations where they were asked to consider the geopolitics of their issue, address what it means for risks and opportunities within Walmart’s stakeholder capitalism model, conduct serious policy analysis, and deliver policy recommendations for Walmart’s corporate diplomacy strategy. Students were encouraged to bring their strengths and areas of regional and functional expertise into focus when narrowing the scope of these questions.

On the supply chain resiliency question, the winning team, the Transatlantic Alliance, identified a major global challenge for Walmart: changing global food systems. Their analysis involved identifying key shifts in this area including changing consumer demands for more meat and more sustainability products, and the green energy transition and its impact on transportation. The recommendations advocated for a multifaceted technological and policy-driven approach to address this issue.

The Globalists, who focused on the inclusive digital economy question, discussed ways in which Walmart, through its partnership with the Indian e-commerce company Flipkart, could help tackle challenges within the Indian public food distribution system. Their recommendations highlighted possible pilot locations, and budget and policy considerations.

“It’s been a valuable exercise for Walmart, and hopefully for an educational one for the teams as well,” said Jonathan Burks (SAIS MA ‘10), Vice President of Global Public Policy at Walmart. “I had high expectations from SAIS students when I agreed to fund this project and they’ve been exceeded,” he added.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Walmart Global Public Policy team, this Challenge has been funded for a second year.

Johns Hopkins SAIS

A division of Johns Hopkins University, the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is a global institution that offers students an international perspective on today's critical issues. For more than 75 years, Johns Hopkins SAIS has produced great leaders, thinkers, and practitioners of international relations. Public leaders and private sector executives alike seek the counsel of the faculty, whose ideas and research inform and shape policy. Johns Hopkins SAIS offers a global perspective across three campus locations: Bologna, Italy; Nanjing, China; and Washington, D.C. The school's interdisciplinary curriculum is strongly rooted in the study of international economics, international relations, and regional studies, preparing students to address multifaceted challenges in the world today.
For more information, visit or on Twitter @SAISHopkins

Saturday, January 29, 2022