Walmart Shuffles C-Suite as International CEO Judith McKenna Steps Down

Jamie Grill-Goodman
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Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International, will retire following 27 years with the company. Credit: Walmart.

Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International, has made the decision to retire following 27 years with the company.

Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Walmart Inc., sent the news to Walmart associates, also announcing that Kath McLay will become the president and CEO of Walmart International and Chris Nicholas will become the president and CEO of Sam’s Club U.S. The Wall Street Journal noted that McKenna was seen as a possible CEO successor to McMillonAdditionally, Kieran Shanahan will succeed Nicholas as EVP and chief operating officer – Walmart U.S.

The female CEO to female CEO handoff, and Sam’s Club promotions will take place Sept. 11, 2023. McKenna will remain with the company until Jan. 31, 2024 to help ensure a smooth transition and to continue serving on the Walmex, Flipkart and PhonePe Boards.

McKenna has been responsible for all aspects of Walmart’s footprint outside the U.S., leading a team of 550,000 associates across 23 countries. Prior to leading Walmart International, she was executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart U.S.

During that time she led the rollout of online grocery to the U.S. by leveraging best practices from her time in the U.K. Before that, she served as executive vice president of strategy and development for Walmart International, chief operating officer for Asda Stores Ltd. in her native U.K, and as Asda’s chief financial officer for more than a decade.

“I first met Judith when she was CFO of our business in the U.K., and I was struck by her combination of intelligence and heart,” McMillon wrote. “She went on to become COO of Asda before moving to our Home Office in Bentonville where she led strategy, real estate, M&A and other areas for our International segment. From there she led our Neighborhood Market business and our early work to transform into an omnichannel business as chief development officer of Walmart U.S., before being promoted to COO. As COO, Judith played an integral role in strengthening our Walmart U.S. business, shaping our eCommerce offering and digital transformation by leading the online grocery pickup business. This was a foundational moment that helped us achieve the omnichannel position we have today.”

Kath McLay will become the next president and CEO of Walmart International. Credit: Walmart

McLay, current president and CEO of Sam’s Club, will step into the role of president and CEO of Walmart International. She joined Walmart in 2015, and, after roles in strategy and supply chain, she led Walmart’s Neighborhood Market business before becoming the president and CEO of Sam’s Club U.S.

McLay began her career in 1992 at Deloitte as an undergraduate and worked in both internal and external audit and later at Qantas Airlines. In 2001, she joined Australian retailer Woolworths in corporate audit and completed her professional studies as a Certified Internal Auditor. She was then appointed head of audit reporting to the CEO and the audit committee chair. In 2007, she was selected as the general manager for business development and subsequently held executive leadership roles throughout Woolworths’ retail and supply chain.

Chris Nicholas will become the president and CEO of Sam’s Club U.S. in her place. Most recently, Nicholas has been the Walmart U.S. COO where he has led the store and supply chain team and helped develop a strategy to create a more intelligent and automated end-to-end supply chain. He was previously the CFO of Walmart U.S. and Walmart International businesses. He moved to the U.S. to join Walmart after serving in merchandising and finance roles across seven countries while with Tesco, Salling and the Coles group in Australia.

“I look forward to working with Kath and Chris in their new roles and am confident they will continue strengthening these businesses while leading with purpose and values,” wrote McMillon.

Shanahan, who will become EVP and chief operating officer – Walmart U.S., has most recently served as executive vice president, International Operations, and regional CEO for Walmart International. In this role, he led performance and strategy for Massmart and Chile, and served as the operating partner for Canada. He also oversaw the Technology, Operations, Marketplace, Real Estate, and Supply Chain teams for International. Prior to this role, Kieran served as EVP and chief growth officer of Sam’s Club. He was responsible for membership, marketing, data monetization, developing future revenue streams, and driving convenience as the differentiator for members.

"Kieran has 25 years with our company working in a wide variety of roles in all three segments," McMillon said in the company earlnings call. "He is well prepared to lead this big team and the change that's coming through our automation investments in the supply chain."

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