Gisel Ruiz, top female exec at Sam’s Club, to retire; Jacqui Canney also exiting Walmart

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 3,265 views 

Jacqui Canney, left, and Gisel Ruiz.

Two high-ranking female executives at Walmart and Sam’s Club are leaving the retail giant in the coming weeks. Gisel Ruiz, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Sam’s Club, is taking early retirement, capping off nearly 27 years with Walmart.

The news comes on the heels of another resignation announced Feb. 27 by Jacqui Canney, executive vice president and chief people officer for Walmart. Canney said she has accepted a job in New York with WPP Advertising and her last day with Walmart is June 15.

Walmart has not named a replacement for Canney. Ruiz will be replaced by Dacona Smith, senior vice president of Walmart’s western U.S. operations, effective April 14.

Ruiz made her resignation public with the following social media post:

“WOW! The day is here. After more than 26 amazing years with Walmart, and a career one can only dream of, I’ve decided to take early retirement to pursue new experiences.”

Ruiz rejoined Sam’s Club in February 2017 as chief operating officer. She held the same role for nearly three years at Walmart U.S., before she transitioned to human resources to lead the retail giant’s international people division from December 2014 to February 2017.

Sam’s Club CEO John Furner sent a memo to employees about Ruiz’s early retirement. He credited her with helping to simplify processes within Sam’s Club operations and also aspiring to reach the retailer’s best sales data in a decade.

“She has left an indelible impression on our company,” Furner wrote in the memo. “More than just a high caliber operations and human resources executive, she’s an exceptional leader. Gisel’s focus on helping associates and serving our customers is second to none. She led by example … We wish her the very best … She will be missed.”

While Ruiz was recruited to Walmart straight from college as a management trainee, Canney joined Walmart in August 2015 after spending 22 years at Accenture, working her way up to senior executive over global human resources, digital technology and operations.

Walmart is seen as a place where women can build a career like Ruiz. IN some cases, it’s also a stepping stone to broaden the experience and exposure for executives like Canney.  Michelle Gloeckler is another example. She spent nearly eight years at Walmart until late 2016 when she joined Academy Sports+Outdoors as the chief merchandising officer. She was replaced at Academy last month after more than two years on the job.

Gloeckler came to Walmart from Hershey, where she spent six years. Other women have used Walmart to further their careers elsewhere. Rosalind Brewer came to Walmart in 2006 after 22 years at Kimberly Clark. In her tenure at Walmart, Brewer quickly rose to the ranks of CEO for Sam’s Club, the first woman to ever hold that position. She left Sam’s Club two years ago and is now chief operating officer at Starbucks as well as a member of Amazon’s board of directors.

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