One word that immediately comes to mind when one speaks to Save Mart employee Ramon Ortiz is “driven.” Originally from Mexico, Ramon arrived in the United States 17 years ago with dreams and goals that he knew this country would enable him to reach. Not long after arriving, he got a job at Save Mart where he has been working for the last 16 years. As a Dairy Lead, his day-to-day often involves making orders, confirming the quality and freshness of products, and – of most importance to him – interacting with customers, and ensuring that he provides the best experience possible for them.
Ramon’s passion to excel in customer service consistently came across in our conversation.
He always strives to make his customers happy, and this was the motivating factor that pushed him to participate in the English at Work program, offered to him by his employer this year. Ramon is proud to serve many fellow Spanish-speaking customers at work, but recognizes that many of Save Mart’s customers primarily speak English.
Being able to speak English more fluidly with them contributes to a higher quality of service.
As for the several months spent in the program, Ramon’s biggest takeaway was the change in perspective it offered him about different ways to provide both excellent customer service to shoppers and assistance to his coworkers. These English classes tailored to the context of working at Save Mart have provided him with the tools necessary to have more fruitful interactions at work, while also recognizing that people learn and understand in many different ways. He hopes to apply this newfound knowledge when training new colleagues.
Ramon also found it very convenient to have the class and learning platform all online. He had 100% attendance and submitted every one of his assignments.
The Covid-19 pandemic unveiled just how dependent we, in our societies, are on unsung and indispensable heroes like Ramon. Like millions of other service-industry and retail workers, he worked through the pandemic. He was thankful to work, not just as a means to provide for himself and his family, but also for society at large as “food continues to be a primary necessity” he said, “Hacer por servir” (doing to serve).
Ramon has his eyes set on the future and knows that when the next opportunity presents itself, he will not shy away from the challenge. He is thankful this English class is opening doors to continued education and has already expressed interest in other similar learning ventures with his supervisors. He has also encouraged his colleagues to take advantage of any upcoming English training offered.
He explains: “If you’re open to listening and learning, there will always be new opportunities.”
He is deeply grateful to Save Mart for caring about and investing in the people they employ to create a well-equipped workforce. He also offers appreciation to the National Immigration Forum, his instructor and other collaborators involved in making opportunities like this possible for him and other fellow immigrants to partake in.
The National Immigration Forum would like to thank Betty Ruiz, Business Engagement and Inclusion Programs intern, for capturing this story.