- Furniture retailer Conn's on Wednesday hired Chandra Holt, one of Walmart's highest-ranking female executives as its new CEO and president, effective Aug. 9 — a smack to Walmart's plans to increase the diversity of its leadership.
- Holt is leaving her role as executive vice president of Walmart U.S. e-commerce to drive Conn's customer-first growth strategy, according to a press release. She will also be the ninth member of Conn's board of directors.
- Her predecessor, Norm Miller, will transition to the role of executive chairman, per the release. Holt's appointment follows the board's multiyear succession plan.
Holt's departure is not only a blow to Walmart's goal to grow representation at the officer level but also a loss of one of the company's long-time employees.
Holt began her Walmart career as Sam's Club vice president of proprietary brands back in 2015 and has since held various roles within the company, including senior vice president and general merchandising manager of grocery, as well as chief operating officer at Samsclub.com. Holt oversaw Walmart's U.S. e-commerce business as it reported a 70% growth in the 2021 fiscal year, the release noted.
Before her stint at Sam's Club, she held a number of leadership roles. She spent over 10 years at Target and over two years at Walgreens, according to her LinkedIn profile.
"Chandra is an experienced leader with a proven track record of innovating to drive growth and profitability for multi-billion-dollar retail businesses, along with demonstrated strength in serving today's omni-channel consumer with leading edge solutions," Bob Martin, lead independent director of Conn's board, said in a statement. "As Conn's continues to successfully execute on its strategic initiatives, we expect the company to benefit from Chandra's modern digital approach to retail and customer centric leadership."
At Walmart, though women made up a little over half of hourly employees in the U.S., only 32.8% of officer-level roles are held by women and 8.4% of officers are women of color, according to the company's 2020 diversity report.
Walmart has promoted several high-ranking female officers over the years, and lost some of them, including Rosalind Brewer, who recently took over as Walgreens CEO after leaving Sam's Club for Starbucks in 2017. Judith McKenna was promoted to president and CEO of Walmart International from her role as chief operating officer in 2018, and Kathryn McLay was named CEO of Sam's Club in 2019.