Walmart store operations chief Dacona Smith retires; Cedric Clark promoted

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 3,563 views 

Dacona Smith, left, and Cedric Clark.

Dacona Smith, the highest-ranking Black executive at Walmart U.S., has retired. Cedric Clark filled Smith’s position as executive vice president of store operations. Clark made that announcement on LinkedIn following the retail giant’s recent Year Beginning Meeting held this week in Orlando.

Details surrounding Smith’s retirement have been kept close to the vest. Clark’s promotion from a similar position at Sam’s Club was made public by Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner on Tuesday in his social media post, where he interviewed Clark about his career trajectory.

“I’m overwhelmed and humbled by the support I’ve received from my Walmart family and friends as I step into my new role as EVP, Store Operations – Walmart U.S. My predecessor, Dacona Smith, left some big shoes for me to fill. I’m grateful for the example of servant leadership he has set and for all the role models during my 19 years with Walmart who have helped me become the leader I am today,” Clark noted in a LinkedIn post on March 14.

Furner described Clark as “competitive and loves to win,” noting he was a former athlete.

“He’s also a musician, creative, and curious guy whom our store associates are going to love working for,” Furner noted in his interview.

Clark’s resume includes overseeing store operations for the Eastern region of Walmart U.S. as well as operations for Sam’s Club between 2017 through early 2022. Before that, he spent about a year as vice president of operations for PetSmart.

Clark was a regional vice president in the Chicago region for Walmart, general manager for Walmart Greater Salt Lake, Utah, region and other regional market leadership positions across the Midwest. From 2003 to 2009, Clark worked in the asset protection division for Walmart U.S.

Smith announced his retirement in early March. Chris Nicolas, who worked with Smith in the chief operating officer job for Walmart U.S., said his “strong character, integrity, and immeasurable support for our stores and front-line associates is what comes to mind first. He’s a leader who always leads with action.”

Smith logged more than 35 years at Walmart, spending the past three years at the executive vice president level for Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club before that. Smith began his career as an hourly employee at Walmart Store No. 1042 in Pauls Valley, Okla., where he later worked as assistant manager, co-manager and store manager in several Texas and Oklahoma stores before taking a market leadership role in northern Nevada.

Smith was hand-picked for his leadership role in Walmart U.S. by Furner, who credited him with simplifying work, transforming Walmart’s store operations model, and raising pay for 1.26 million hourly employees over the past three years. Furner said Smith was a champion for e-commerce and digital innovation and store employees’ well-being.

Walmart said Smith’s contributions would be missed as he seeks to spend more time with his wife Kay and their family.