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Spelman Alum Makes History As First Black Woman To Become Chief Merchandising Officer At Walmart

Spelman Alum Makes History As First Black Woman To Become Chief Merchandising Officer At Walmart

She started out as an intern!

Latriece Watkins started her career at Walmart as an intern working in the real estate department, Biz Journals report. The Spelman graduate holds a bachelor’s in political science from the prestigious HBCU and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She worked her way up the corporate ladder, serving in key leadership roles at Walmart over the years, including at Sam’s Club, human resources, U.S. store operations, Walmart U.S. merchandising, and as executive VP of merchandising. 

Now after 24 years under her belt with the retail giant, Watkins has been named as the new U.S. chief merchandising officer at Walmart, making history as the first woman and the first Black person to ever hold the title. 

Watkins will be taking over for Charles Redfield, another Walmart veteran who got his start as a cashier at Sam’s Club. He stepped into the role in January 2022 after working for a U.K. supermarket chain owned by Walmart before serving as VP of merchandising for Sam’s Club and executive VP of food for Walmart U.S. Redfield announced he was stepping down to spend more time with his family last month but will continue working with the company as an advisor as Watkins takes over. 

In her new role, Watkins will oversee the team responsible for choosing the products sold at more than 4,700 Walmart stores across the United States. Walmart operates more than 10,500 stores and clubs in 20 countries, employing 2.1 million people worldwide and 1.6 million in the U.S. alone. Revenue is expected to stay on the rise despite inflation but the corporation is taking a more cautious approach and Watkins will hold a key role to ensure the success of their stores. 

“We have a rich history of strong leaders who embrace this constant change, set bold visions for our teams and best represent the humanity that is Walmart,” Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner told associates. 

Watkins officially stepped into her new role on May 1st. Congratulations Latriece!

Cover photo: Spelman alum makes history as first Black woman to become chief merchandising officer at Walmart/Photo Courtesy of Walmart