The retirement of veteran merchant John Westling was announced internally at Walmart last Friday, and in typical fashion his departure has created new opportunities for other executives as responsibilities are reallocated.
Westling served as EVP general merchandise and replenishment and spent 23 years at Walmart. Chief merchandising office Duncan Mac Naughton had kind things to say about Westling, and well he should as the departing executive was the embodiment of the type of employee Walmart so often holds up as an example of the personal growth potential that is possible.
Westling began as an hourly associate in 1988 and went on to become an assistant manager, buyer and merchandise manager. In 1998, Westling became a VP/DMM with oversight of key commodity categories such as household paper goods and chemicals. Along the way he earned the respect of those who reported to him and the suppliers he interacted with.
“John leaves a legacy in our merchandising organization,” Mac Naughton said. “Because of his leadership, we have solid foundational systems and processes in replenishment, pricing and merchandising operations. And his focus on our associates inspired the Women in Merchandise program that will benefit Walmart women for generations. For these accomplishments and his leadership in the community as a Board member for the Children’s Miracle Network and Will Golf 4 Kids, we are proud to celebrate John’s Walmart career.”
Filling the void created by Westling’s resignation will be John Aden and Pam Kohn. Aden previously served as SVP hardlines and his new title will be EVP general merchandise. Aden joined Walmart in 2007 as an SVP of international operations after serving as president of Mac Tools.
Kohn joined Walmart in 2002 and she most recently served as SVP global food sourcing. In her new role as EVP she will lead Walmart’s merchandise service organization and have expansive responsibilities for its centralized merchandising shared services functions of merchandising execution, store layout, format and space productivity and replenishment.
“With Pam’s breadth of experiences in so many areas of Walmart, as well as prior to joining the company, she is uniquely positioned to be a driving force in our merchandising strategy,” Mac Naughton said.
Kohn came to Walmart after a career in the grocery business that included stints at Stop & Shop and Food Lion. Initially hired to oversee Walmart Neighborhood Market division, Kohn eventually moved on to become VP global supply chain, SVP divisional operations and SVP fresh merchandise.