A round of senior management changes is under way at Walmart, which has named a new chief executive officer for Sam's Club, whose current CEO is leaving, and promoted a pair of executives to fill two newly created posts: chief operating officer for its U.S. division and corporate chief administrative officer.

Walmart, senior management changes, Sam's Club, chief executive officer, CEO, Brian Cornell, Rosalind Brewer, Walmart U.S., Mike Duke, Gisel Ruiz, chief operating officer, COO, Rollin Ford, chief administrative officer, Karenann Terrell, chief information officer, CIO, Bill Simon, discount store, Walmart U.S. east, warehouse club chain, executive vice president, Russell Redman

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Walmart names new Sam's CEO, Walmart U.S. COO

January 20th, 2012

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – A round of senior management changes is under way at Walmart, which has named a new chief executive officer for Sam's Club, whose current CEO is leaving, and promoted a pair of executives to fill two newly created posts: chief operating officer for its U.S. division and corporate chief administrative officer.

The discount store giant said Friday that Brian Cornell, 52, president and CEO of Sam's Club, has told the company that he and his wife want to move back to the Northeast for family reasons. With his exit, Rosalind Brewer, president of the Walmart U.S. east business unit, is being promoted to president and CEO of Sam's Club effective Feb. 1.

Meanwhile, Gisel Ruiz, executive vice president of people for Walmart U.S., is being promoted to executive vice president and COO for Walmart U.S. and is slated to start in the new role Feb. 1.

Also taking a newly created position is Rollin Ford, who is being promoted from chief information officer of Walmart to chief administrative officer for the company, effective Feb. 1. To replace him, Karenann Terrell, assistant CIO for Walmart, is being promoted to CIO, also beginning in that post on Feb. 1.

The departure of Cornell comes as a surprise, since some industry observers have deemed him a rising star at Walmart with the robust performance of Sam's Club, the retailer's warehouse club chain.

"Being part of the Sam's Club family has been a wonderful personal and professional experience, one that I will always value," Cornell said in a statement. "I have felt at home here and have a strong connection to the associates, the company and its values and mission. However, after 30 years of asking my family to follow me all around the globe, it is time to put them first. My wife and I want to put down roots in the Northeast and live in the same ZIP code as our children, not just occasionally seeing them in hotels and restaurants."

Brian Cornell

Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke commented, "Brian has done a terrific job at Sam's Club. He is a strong, high-energy leader who has delivered great results and leaves behind a business with outstanding momentum. In addition to building a talented, high-functioning team to run that business, he has also developed other leaders who now hold senior positions around the globe."

As president of Walmart U.S. east, the 49-year-old Brewer oversaw a business that generates more than $100 billion in annual revenue and has almost 1,600 stores and over 500,000 associates. In her new post as Sam's Club CEO, she reports to Duke.

Before joining Walmart, Brewer worked for Kimberly-Clark, rising through various positions and eventually becoming president of a key business sector in 2004. She is a director for Lockheed Martin Corp. and was selected one of the Most Powerful Women in Business by Fortune magazine in 2010 and 2011.

"Roz came to us with an outstanding background in consumer packaged goods more than five years ago," stated Duke. "During that time I have seen her develop into a talented merchant and retailer. She has strong strategic, analytical and operational skills and has successfully managed a large and complex business. I've also been struck by Roz's servant leadership when I have visited stores with her. She always lets her team do the talking, with her focus being on how to better support their needs."

Ruiz, 41, moves from a human resources position to a retail operations role. As COO for Walmart U.S., she will be responsible for the retailer's U.S. operations, which cover more than 3,800 stores and include Supercenters, discount stores, Neighborhood Markets and Walmart Express formats. She will continue to report to Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon, and all three regional business unit presidents will report to her.

In her previous post as executive vice president of people for Walmart U.S., Ruiz directed human resources and store innovation organizations supporting over 1.2 million associates. Walmart said she helped transform the company's approach to talent management and leveraged technology to drive process changes that sharpened efficiencies and improved the customer and associate experience.

"I'm incredibly excited to see Gisel's impact on the stores," Simon said in a statement. "She started in our stores, ran stores and, more importantly, understands the perspective of our associates like no one else on our leadership team. That's invaluable. For nearly 20 years, Gisel has proven herself to be a strong and capable operator, manager, teacher, retail executive and role model for our culture."

Ruiz began her career at Walmart U.S. as a store management trainee in 1992 and has held a variety of leadership positions in store operations, labor relations and human resources. In 2006, she became vice president and regional general manager in the field operations division and was responsible for 150 Walmart stores in western Texas and New Mexico.  

As Walmart's chief administrative officer, the 49-year-old Ford will oversee the information systems division, global sourcing, global business processes, global shared services and global customer insights. He will continue to report to Duke.

Walmart noted that Ford will play a pivotal role in helping the company reach its goal of reducing selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses as a percentage of sales by more than 100 basis points over the next five years. His efforts will include a focus on leveraging scale, paring expenses and boosting productivity worldwide, the retailer said.

According to Duke, "Rollin has played a key role in driving process improvement and leveraging technology in the past and will now have broad responsibility for some of the key areas that give us the greatest opportunity. His new position enables us to capitalize on his experience in our information systems, logistics and supply chain divisions, as well as his strength in team building and ability to lead across multiple organizations."

In taking over the CIO position, Terrell, 50, will be responsible for Walmart's global technology systems, including stores and clubs, supply chain, merchandising and enterprise platforms. She will continue reporting to Ford.

"Karenann has brought a wealth of experience to the organization, along with a technology foundation that will continue to serve Walmart well," Ford stated. "She has embraced our mission and our values and has a passion for supporting our customers around the world. I'm confident that, in her new role, she will take Walmart's information systems division to a whole new level."

Before coming to Walmart, Terrell was CIO of Baxter International Inc., supporting its businesses worldwide from 2006 to 2010. Prior to that she served as CIO of Chrysler Group and Mercedes-Benz North America.

"We are very intentional about developing talent to meet the needs of our rapidly growing business worldwide," Duke commented. "The promotions we are announcing today are clear evidence that our succession and management development programs work, and that we have highly talented, well-rounded and experienced business leaders ready to step into larger roles when the opportunities arise."