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Best Buy Tidal Wave program brings new perspectives, opportunities

After about 20 years with Best Buy in product merchandising, Ryo Hamasaki was feeling stuck in his career. He enjoyed his work, but he wanted to make a bigger difference in people’s lives.

Victoria Dias has spent 28 years at Best Buy, most recently as a senior market director in the Southwest. She was looking to expand her network and learn more about how the company operates in other areas, especially corporate teams.

Through a program called Tidal Wave, Ryo and Victoria were both able to explore their career interests and gain new skills. The program puts participants on six to twelve month rotational assignments across Best Buy to help them develop new skills, meet new colleagues and learn a different part of the business. The program also brings fresh perspectives to different business teams.

“It takes courage to do [Tidal Wave], regardless of your tenure or title,” Victoria said. “But this has been an incredible learning experience and opportunity to get out of my comfort zone.”

Broadening mindsets, building resilience

Ryo joined the Customer Office as an employee strategist. Although he was anxious about undertaking an entirely different job, he slowly grew his confidence by meeting new people and asking questions to learn more about the team and his role.

“I had to go through a mindset shift,” he said. “But the benefit of [Tidal Wave] was I could be vulnerable about what I did and didn’t know.”

Navigating the unknown is exactly the point. Victoria took a Tidal Wave assignment under the talent performance team to learn more about their work and how it related to her teams in the field.  

For six months, Victoria developed a partnership with the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing at the University of Arizona. This partnership provided students opportunities to work on projects related to Best Buy’s business and provide recommendations to solve issues. Throughout the assignment, Victoria built and managed Best Buy’s partnership with the university and brought in Best Buy leaders to speak to students about retail trends and operations. She also had the opportunity to learn more about customer service teams and strategy.

Short-term opportunity, lasting impact

At the end of their Tidal Wave assignment, participants return to their jobs with greater experience, skills and often a chance to continue with the role on their Tidal Wave team.

In Ryo’s case, his leader, Alexis Stewart, offered him a permanent position on the customer and employee strategy team. Not only did Ryo feel more fulfilled in his new job, but Alexis was confident he would continue to succeed on her team.

“All of those things that can’t be taught, like passion and empathy, he had,” Alexis said. “We wanted him to stay.”

Victoria has returned to her previous role, but now feels newly inspired with a deeper understanding of the business and more connections across the company to find cross-functional solutions when issues come up. She’s looking forward to using what she learned from Tidal Wave to help her team develop their own talents and skills.

“This was an opportunity to stretch myself and build a network of folks I haven’t worked with before,” she said. “I’ve done that and built additional skills that I didn’t anticipate that will be helpful to me long-term.”