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Walmart Canada Executive Changes Focus on Operations, Merchandising, Commerce, and Transformation

Walmart Canada recently announced a senior executive leadership change up as part of its journey to transform the customer experience for the retail giant’s customers in-store and online. Walmart has made some recent changes in operations including one of the first major retailers to do away with single-use plastic bags.

The leadership change takes place across the operations, merchandising, commerce, and transformation groups in the Canadian team.

  • 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
  • John Bayliss is now Executive Vice President, Transformation Officer

Walmart has recently made significant upgrades to its operations in BC and Ontario. In December they announced a $20-million investment that will improve Walmart Canada’s supply chain and “future-proof the organization” by equipping associates with the industry-leading technologies, training, and development they need to modernize work and keep goods flowing.

Horacio Barbeito, President and CEO, Walmart Canada

“Walmart is known for its excellent people. 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!

Horacio Barbeito, President and CEO, Walmart Canada

Nabeela Ixtabalan new Chief Operations Officer focused on well-being, diversity and inclusion, regeneration

Nabeela Ixtabalan is Walmart Canada’s new Chief Operations Officer 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, 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.

Nabeela Ixtabalan, Chief Operations Officer, Walmart Canada

Nabeela 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.

Nabeela graduated with a dual degree in Marketing and Supply Chain Management and Distribution from Indiana University and holds a master’s in Industrial and Organizational Behaviour and Design from the University of Texas. She is a certified executive coach through the International Coaching Federation and a six-sigma green belt.

Ixtabalan was recently recognized as one of the top executives in Canada. Ixtabalan can vividly recall formulating a 100-day plan for her new job while on the flight from Copenhagen to Toronto a year and a half ago, after leaving Ikea’s Swedish HQ to join Walmart’s Canadian headquarters.

Sam Wankowski named Chief Merchandising Officer

Sam Wankowski is Walmart Canada’s new Chief Merchandising Officer ensuring that customers have convenient access to food, apparel, general merchandise, and health and wellness offerings at everyday low prices. Sam’s career with Walmart began in 2003 when he joined ASDA, Walmart’s former UK operations. He spent five years in a variety of roles within ASDA before joining Walmart Canada in 2008. 

Sam Wankowski, Chief Merchandising Officer, Walmart Canada

Sam has been with Walmart for 19 years and started his career through the Asda Graduate Program in the UK. He joined the Canadian business in 2008 and then took on an expatriate assignment with Walmart International in 2011 where he led Strategy for the EMEA region. Upon his return to Walmart Canada, Sam assumed leadership of the General Merchandise team before moving into Operations in 2016 to lead the Western division. In 2019, Sam assumed the role of Senior Vice President of Central Operations.

During his time at Walmart Canada, Sam 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. 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.

He currently sits on the board of advisors to LIMA Canada, an organization focused on growing the licensing industry in Canada.

Sam holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business and Quality Management from the Nottingham Business School. sees over 1.5 Million Customers Daily as Laurent Duray named Chief E-Commerce Officer

Laurent Duray is Walmart Canada’s new Chief E-commerce Officer, 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 initiated the omni integration within merchandising.

Laurent Duray, Chief E-commerce Officer, Walmart Canada

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 Walmart, Laurent enjoyed a successful career at Ahold Delhaize, that started with implementing a discount format in Belgium, Greece, and Romania to be appointed the Managing Director of Red Market in Belgium. The newly created format became the first retailer worldwide to implement a fully Scan&Go checkout.

Laurent started his career in management consulting at Accenture within the strategy practice. His focus was on the banking and retail sector, with an emphasis on post deal transformation, operating models, and innovation.

He grew up in Belgium and has lived in five different countries (Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Spain, and Canada).

John Bayliss is Walmart Canada’s new EVP, Transformation Officer leading strategy, innovation, corporate development

John Bayliss is Walmart Canada’s new Executive Vice President, Transformation Officer. In this newly created role, John is driving the strategy, innovation, corporate development, new store format, real estate and transformation agenda for Walmart Canada. Prior to this role, John 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.

John Bayliss, EVP – Transformation Officer, Walmart Canada

John has been a passionate champion for modernizing our business with innovative projects around automation, blockchain, fleet electrification, and artificial intelligence.

John serves as the Vice Chair of the Food Banks Canada Board of Directors, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Luminato Arts Festival, Canada’s largest multi-disciplinary arts festival. He is also an advisor to the Centre for Building Sustainable Value at the Ivey Business School.

John holds an MBA from Harvard Business School as well as an HBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, Western University. John has also completed Executive Education courses focused around design thinking, innovation, and artificial intelligence at MIT.


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