Walmart International pulls off a rare female CEO handoff

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Women’s World Cup shows a growing market for female sports gamblers, Taiwan responds to its #MeToo-like movement, and Walmart pulls off a rare female CEO-to-female CEO handoff. Have a meaningful Thursday!

– CEO-ready. For the past five years, Judith McKenna has headed Walmart’s $100-billion international business. A 27-year Walmart veteran, McKenna reshaped the mega-retailer’s global presence, selling off operations in Japan, Argentina, and the U.K and doubling down on key markets like Mexico, Canada and China.

She oversaw Walmart’s $16-billion stake in India’s Flipkart, the company’s biggest deal ever at the time (and one that Fortune alum Beth Kowitt dived into in a 2018 profile of the executive). Then, she led the global business through the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her influential role overseeing 550,000 employees in 23 countries landed her at No. 14 on Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women list and even led some to speculate that she could be a candidate to run the company one day.

Walmart International CEO Judith McKenna will retire from running the $100-billion business.

Stuart Isett for Fortune

But Walmart announced yesterday that McKenna, 57, plans to retire, stepping down from her current position next month and from the company in early 2024.

Even more compelling than McKenna’s retirement is who is in line to succeed her: Kath McLay, the CEO of Sam’s Club. McLay has been a rising star at Walmart, running the $73-billion warehouse club division. The 49-year-old Australian alum of Woolworths and Qantas, who joined Walmart in 2015, has tried to distinguish Sam’s Club from its better-known parent and from competitor Costco. She even ran the brand’s first Super Bowl ad. She’s already been on the Most Powerful Women list, ranked No. 28 for her Sam’s Club job.

Sam’s Club CEO Kath McLay will step in as CEO of Walmart International.

Courtesy of Sam’s Club/Walmart

The succession is a rare example of a handoff from female CEO to female CEO. While the Walmart International role ultimately reports to Walmart chief Doug McMillion, it’s still a highly influential CEO job at one of the world’s biggest companies. And when women leave those roles—like we saw recently at Gap Inc.—it’s rare for another to be waiting in the wings to replace them.

The handoff speaks to Walmart’s deep bench of female executive talent—and McLay is certainly one to keep watching.

Emma Hinchliffe

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– Betting on women. More women gambled on this year’s Women’s World Cup than ever before, a milestone indicative of the growing interest women have in sports betting. Entrain, an international sports betting and gambling group headed up by Jette Nygaard-Andersen, found that women accounted for 21% of bets on England’s first three games in the tournament, a jump from 13% in 2019. Bloomberg

– Taiwan takes action. The president of Taiwan has signed three amendments to its sexual harassment prevention laws in a rapid response to its #MeToo-like movement. The amendments sets harsher penalties for workplace sexual harassment, extends the statute of limitations for complaints, and establishes stricter guidelines for relationships between teachers and students. They come in response to a wave of sexual harassment allegations against political figures, teachers, and university professors. Wall Street Journal

– Satellite, but no dish. Adriana Cisneros, who’s led the massive Cisneros Group conglomerate for 10 years, is turning her family’s Venezuelan fortune away from TV dominance and towards satellite technology. With approximately $38 million invested, Cisneros has a 4.7% stake in AST SpaceMobile Inc., a space-based broadband cellular network that Cisneros believes could be “bigger than anything I’ve—that we’ve—ever touched at Cisneros.” Bloomberg

– Spotlight for style. Female fashion designers, the underrepresented lifeblood of the fashion industry, will finally have the spotlight during the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s fall show. Though the industry largely runs on female customers and products, this exhibit serves as a reminder that women have been excluded from designer and C-suite positions. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: VintaBio named Jennifer Kingsly as chief commercial officer. Quantum Metric appointed Helena Day Christianson as chief people officer. WSP USA promoted Christi Byrd to national business line leader for advisory at WSP USA.


– Stevie speaks. Months after Hello Sunshine‘s Daisy Jones & the Six, loosely based on Fleetwood Mac, became a streaming hit, Stevie Nicks has weighed in. In an Instagram post this week, Nicks wrote that the show “brought back memories that made me feel like a ghost watching my own story.” CNN

– Sued for discrimination. O’Reilly Auto Parts is facing a lawsuit from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson for allegedly discriminating and retaliating against at least 22 pregnant workers. The lawsuit claims that O’Reilly locations habitually refused to provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations and demoted employees who asked for them. The company says its policies comply with nondiscrimination laws. Seattle Times

– Escaping hate. A new book from Drew Gilpin Faust, who served as the first female president of Harvard from 2007-2018, takes a long critical look at the prejudice and conservatism that defined the Southern culture of her childhood. Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury, which publishes August 22, is described by Faust as both a reckoning with community’s racial hate and a story of her escape from it. New York Times

– Second exit. Phylicia Rashad, dean of Howard’s College of Fine Arts and school alum, is stepping down from her position after the 2023-2024 academic year. Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick praised Rashad, star of The Cosby Show, for attracting talent to the re-established Fine Arts college. Washington Post


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‘Girl’ trends and the repackaging of womanhood Vox


“I was not aware that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties. I learned that later.”

—U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen after accidentally eating hallucinogenic mushrooms during a trip to Beijing

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