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People First

THE PEOPLE BEHIND OUR PROGRESS Xavier Watson, Materials Recovery Facility Manager

Xavier Watson’s passion for resource conservation began when he was a child growing up in Jamaica. Living on the island, Watson learned the importance of reusing daily items and limiting waste.

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Whether managing routes, working in our facilities or communicating with customers, WM employees play a vital role in the communities we serve.

Knowing that our success depends on the success of each employee, we are a company committed to People First. We strive to give our people the tools they need to develop and excel in their careers.

Our workforce includes three major categories of employees:

Frontline employees

including collection vehicle drivers, technicians and mechanics, and operators of equipment at our landfills, transfer stations and material recovery facilities

Operations employees

including route managers, fleet managers, district managers and facility and design engineers.

Corporate professionals

including customer experience, sales, finance and accounting, legal and compliance, policy, digital and our people organization.

Thriving in an Evolving Industry

In 2020, we were able to maintain a strong workplace for employees by addressing these challenges:

  • A competitive labor environment
  • High levels of turnover due to high demand and challenging work.
  • Ongoing cultural integration of more than 100 acquisitions over the past five years.
  • The need to retain knowledge and develop skills among a five generation workforce.
  • An imperative to keep employees safe as waste streams and industry dynamics change.
  • A desire to become more inclusive, equitable and diverse at all levels of our company.

Living Our Commitments & Values

We are committed to strengthen our position as an employer of choice in an increasingly complex environment. In 2019 we formed a Culture & Engagement department to address these challenges and help reduce the wide variance in employees’ cultural experiences. The department includes a Culture Council made up of a cross-section of leaders as well as over 500 Ambassadors who help educate fellow employees on WM’s Commitments & Values.

We continuously socialize our Commitments & Values through site-based programs and resources in English, Spanish and French. Throughout 2020 and early 2021, we planned distinct programming on both of our Commitments and all four of our Values. Ambassadors organized “huddles” where they brought the Commitment or Value to life, introduced its executive sponsor and provided a call to action for team members. For example, during the Inclusion, Equity & Diversity huddle, ambassadors introduced our Power of One program, while 50,000 trees were planted to represent employee pledges to live sustainably. Senior leaders also shared resources and messaging with vice presidents to help them present the Commitments & Values to their teams.

Our Commitments & Values framework enabled WM to respond thoughtfully to the events of 2020, including the pandemic and calls to action regarding social injustice. Looking ahead, we believe WM’s Commitments & Values will support our focus on innovation and inclusivity, allowing us to forge a future that will benefit all of our employees.

THE PEOPLE BEHIND OUR PROGRESS Xavier Watson, Materials Recovery Facility Manager

Xavier Watson’s passion for resource conservation began when he was a child growing up in Jamaica. Living on the island, Watson learned the importance of reusing daily items and limiting waste.

Watson and his family eventually immigrated to the United States, and after Watson finished high school, he joined the U.S. Navy. His travels with the Navy took him to other parts of the world, where he learned how other countries and cultures view resource conservation. These experiences sparked a passion Watson felt he could pursue as a career.

“When I thought about what I wanted to do for a living, I knew the opportunity to work in the recycling industry would be a good fit,” Watson reflected. “There was nothing to do but to jump right in.” After leaving the military in 2006, Watson joined WM’s MRF Operations team in Orlando, Florida.

Watson worked his way up through the organization and various positions, excelling in leadership roles. He also focused on continuing his education and earned his college degree in business management.

Fifteen years later, Watson is now the MRF Manager at the WM Recycling Brevard County MRF. Every day, he proudly leads his team, knowing that what they do makes a difference for the environment.