Kearney Leaderboard

Walmart Canada makes leadership changes

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Four executives take on new roles at retailer.

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Walmart Canada has named four executives to new leadership roles as part of a push to “transform the customer experience for millions of customers in-store and online,” the company said Wednesday. Nabeela Ixtabalan has been named chief operations officer, Sam Wankowski has been named chief merchandising officer, Laurent Duray has been named chief e-commerce officer and John Bayliss now serves as executive vice president, transformation officer.

“Walmart is known for its excellent people,” Walmart Canada president and CEO Horacio Barbeito said of the moves. “I am extremely proud and excited for what Nabeela, Sam, Laurent and John will offer our customers as we continue to modernize and transform our business. Walmart is also a great place to build a career. We recognize and promote great talent. At Walmart, the sky’s the limit!”

As chief operations officer Ixtabalan is responsible for overseeing the operations and performance of more than 400 stores from coast-to-coast-coast serving more than 1.5 million customers daily. She joined Walmart in 2020 as executive vice president for people and corporate affairs. Her passion and commitment in the areas of well-being, diversity and inclusion, building capabilities for the future, and becoming a regenerative company will have a lasting impact on Walmart Canada, the company said.

Ixtabalan joined Walmart following an extensive career in retail working for major brands such as Starbucks and Ikea and has held senior roles in the US, Canada and Europe. She is a proven leader of transformational change, Nabeela brings exceptional capabilities in human resources, retail operations, digital innovation and agile methodology. She is also Walmart International’s first-ever female COO and was most recently recognized as one of The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business’ 2022 Top Executives.

As Walmart Canada’s new chief merchandising officer, Wankowski will be tasked with ensuring that customers have convenient access to food, apparel, general merchandise, and health and wellness offerings at everyday low prices. His career with Walmart began in 2003 when he joined ASDA, Walmart’s former UK division. He spent five years in a variety of roles within ASDA before joining Walmart Canada in 2008.

During his time at Walmart Canada, Wankowski held many progressive leadership positions within merchandising and operations and was most recently the company’s chief operations officer. He is known for his human-centred approach to leadership and is a strong ambassador for our culture – building engaged, diverse and highly capable teams, according to the company, which added that he has a track record of delivering results through leading transformational change and has been a dedicated advocate for the work to become a more regenerative business.

As Walmart Canada’s new chief e-commerce officer, Duray is responsible for leading a cross-functional team to accelerate and grow, which is visited by 1.5 million customers daily, and includes more than 40 million items from over 6,000 sellers on Walmart Canada’s Marketplace. Laurent joined Walmart Canada in July 2015. Prior to his current role, Laurent held senior positions at Walmart Canada, including vice president of strategy and senior vice president of fresh, grocery and consumables, and he initiated the omni integration within merchandising.

Laurent is known for his high energy and focus on performance and developing talent and is a strong transformational change leader, creating innovative solutions and value for Walmart customers. Prior to joining Walmart, Laurent worked for well-known European retailer Ahold Delhaize and in management consulting at Accenture.

Bayliss is taking on the newly created role of executive vice president, and transformation officer at Walmart Canada — he is responsible for driving the company’s strategy, innovation, corporate development, new store format, real estate and transformation agenda. Prior to this role, Bayliss was the senior vice president of logistics and supply chain of Walmart Canada where he led a transformation within the supply chain team focused on safety, engagement, performance, and service to our stores and customers, which included innovative projects around automation, blockchain, fleet electrification, and artificial intelligence.

Bayliss has been a passionate champion for modernizing our business with innovative projects around automation, blockchain, fleet electrification, and artificial intelligence, according to the company, which notes that before joining Walmart Canada, Bayliss worked for over 16 years with The Boston Consulting Group. He was a core member of their global retail leadership team and served retail clients in Canada, the US, UK, Europe, and Australia.

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