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Departure of former international finance chief a loss for Walmart

Wan Ling Martello may not have been a household name outside of Walmart, but that doesn’t diminish the significance of her departure from a company eager to achieve a higher degree of diversity among the ranks of its senior executives.

Martello was among the company’s most senior female executives and most recently served as EVP and COO of global e-commerce, emerging markets, a role that was established over a year ago when Walmart created its global.com business unit. However, she was best known among the financial community for her role as Walmart International’s top financial executive beginning in 2005. That position currently is filled by international CFO Cathy Smith who just last week as a featured speaker at a Network of Executive Women leadership conference expressed dismay that more progress hasn’t been made to achieve a higher degree of diversity in business.

Martello left Walmart to become CFO of global food giant Nestle where she replaces longtime finance chief Jim Singh who will retire early next year. Singh spent 35 years with Nestle. In announcing her appointment, Nestle portrayed Martello as someone with vast knowledge of the finance and control area and solid experience in the food and beverage business as well as the retail segment. She is a CPA with an MBA from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accountancy from the University of the Philippines.

“I am confident that Wan Ling will blend well into the Nestlé culture and that her strong experience in finance and the food and beverage business, both from the industry and retail angle, will allow her to further enhance the Nestlé model combining top-line growth with continuous margin improvement and an improved return on invested capital,” Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke said.

Prior to joining Walmart in 2005, Martello served as CFO, COO and eventually president of the U.S. arm of the former Nielsen subsidiary NCH Marketing Services for seven years. Prior to that, she held senior finance roles with Borden Foods and Kraft Foods.