|Gisel Ruiz Shatters the Glass Ceiling at Walmart U.S.
By Gloria Romano
Photo courtesy of Walmart.
On the announcement of her promotion to executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., Gisel Ruiz, becomes the most influential Latina in corporate America and proves that a talented, committed and hard-working Latina can indeed make history and break through the glass ceiling in corporate America. Beginning her career at Walmart U.S. as a store management trainee in 1992, Ruiz’ career has come a long way. Promoted to this position on February of this year, Ruiz is responsible for the company’s U.S. operations, which cover more than 3,800 stores and include Supercenters, discount stores, Neighborhood Markets and Walmart Express formats. On this role she reports to Walmart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon and all three regional business unit presidents report to her.
“I’m incredibly excited to see Gisel’s impact on the stores,” said Simon. “She started in our stores, ran stores and, more importantly, understands the perspective of our associates like no one else on our leadership team. That’s invaluable. For nearly 20 years, Gisel has proven herself to be a strong and capable operator, manager, teacher, retail executive and role model for our culture.”
Prior to this role, Ruiz was executive vice president of People for Walmart U.S. where she was responsible for the human resources and store innovation organizations supporting more than 1.2 million associates, including merchandising, compensation and store innovation. She also helped transform the company’s approach to talent management and leveraged technology to drive process changes that increased efficiencies and improved the customer and associate experience.
Her career began while attending Santa Clara University, where she learned about Walmart during retail management classes. After being recruited by Walmart, Ruiz was accepted into the company’s management training program later becoming an assistant management trainee. As she continued to work through several jobs of operation she was promoted to store manager to two different Walmart stores in California. Soon after, she became visible among her peers. “I had an amazing boss and an amazing regional who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” stated Ruiz in a 2011 interview with LATINA Style. “They began talking with me about potentially going to the home office for interviews and I said yes. I interviewed for a labor relations job here at my home office, and that was my first job and from there I held various roles. ”
Following her career track, in 2006, Ruiz became vice president, regional general manager in the Field Operations Division, and was responsible for 150 Walmart stores in western Texas and New Mexico. From 2008 until 2010, she served as senior vice president of Walmart People, leading the human resources organization for more than 3,700 stores across the United States.
In 2008, Ruiz was recognized as one of the Top 25 Powerful Minority Women in Business by the Minority Enterprise Executive Council. She also received the 2008 Walmart Leadership Award. In February 2011, LATINA Style took pride in honoring Ruiz as the 2010 Latina Executive of the Year, an award presented to Latinas that demonstrate excellence in leadership, give back to the community, contribute to the development of their respective company and contribute to the growth of Latinas in the United States.
Robert Bard, president & CEO, LATINA Style Inc.; Gisel Ruiz, Walmart; Dagmar Rosa-Bjorkesen, Novartis; Virginia Gonzales, State Farm at the 2011 LATINA Style 50 Awards Ceremony.
Ruiz holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Santa Clara University, where she also completed the Retail Management Institute program, is a wife and mother of two daughters.
As we continue to recognize Gisel Ruiz’s accomplishments and Walmart’s growth, Ruiz’s promotion to executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart is a great source of pride for the Latino community.
LATINA Style takes great pride in the success of more Latinas at Walmart. Their years of leadership have earned them accolades from peers as well as corporate leaders. Bringing a wealth of talent, expertise and knowledge, they broaden the company’s reach while creating opportunities for greater growth and value within our diverse communities.
A native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, Carmen Bauza is the vice president and divisional merchandise manager of beauty and personal care for Walmart Stores, Inc. Prior to joining Wal-Mart, Bauza was a General Merchandise manager at Bath and Body Works, a division of Limited Brands, Inc. of seasonal gifts and accessories. Bauza also spent over 10 years with the Walt Disney Company Theme Parks Division in various roles that included vice president and General Merchandise manager responsible for product development of theme parks. Bauza holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Fashion Merchandising and Business Management from Seton Hill College in Greensburg, PA.
Theresa Barrera, vice president, Supplier Diversity for Walmart Stores, Inc. began her career as a part-time cashier at a Sam's Club in Corpus Christi, Texas, while attending college full-time. She is responsible for supplier diversity for the company, developing and implementing corporate supplier diversity strategy, and initiatives to promote, increase, and enhance the quality of the overall participation of minority and woman-owned business enterprises in the company. Barrera holds an undergraduate degree in finance from Corpus Christi State University. She is the proud mother of two daughters, Alli, 16, and Olivia, 13.
“Gisel’s promotion is a huge step forward for the Latino community. Latinos remain severely nderrepresented in corporate America, especially at the C-suite level. Gisel’s advancement sets the example for all Fortune 500 companies to follow and realize the importance of including Latinos at all levels of their companies.”
– Esther Aguilera, president & CEO, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI)
“Gisel Ruiz’s appointment is a historic accomplishment for women and Hispanics in the global business world. On behalf of HACR’s Board of Directors we congratulate Gisel on her appointment as Chief Operating Officer and commend Walmart for their commitment to Hispanic inclusion at the store level, in their C-Suite, and on its board of directors.”
– Carlos Orta, president and CEO Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR)
“From my point of view, our Latino community should regard Gisel’s promotion as proof positive that Latina(o)s are effective, valuable and qualified to lead responsibilities at this level and for the #1 retailer in the world.
I have not (yet) had the pleasure of meeting Gisel. As a Latina, though, I have to say I am especially orgullosa (proud) of her. Gisel obviously earned this important promotion by working hard, focusing, investing and sacrificing. Todo se puede—adelante Gisel!”
– Anne Alonzo, Vice President, Corporate Affairs Kraft Foods
“Congratulations on a very deserving promotion and recognition of your operational excellence and leadership. You embody the essence of Latina leadership and you are leaving a legacy for other Latina leaders to follow. We thank you and we lift you up, Felicidades Hermana!”
– Marie Quintana Senior Vice President, Multicultural Sales, PepsiCo, Inc.
“To attain a higher representation of Latinos in executive roles, is only possible with the accomplishment of Latinos like Gisel, who have reached the top, represent the Latino community, and make these roles attainable to all Latinos.Gisel has broken the glass ceiling in this capacity. Her accomplishments have paved the path for all Latinas, giving them the motivation to strive for success.”
– Barbara J. DesMarteau, Interim President, National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI)
“This is great news for our community. I’ve known Gisel for many years and I have been extremely impressed by her talent, knowledge, and commitment. She has been a good friend and an important source of advice on a range of issues, particularly in her area of expertise, human resources. Walmart has taken an important step forward in bringing Latinos into the highest levels of the company but more importantly, they have made a very wise business decision. Having Gisel at the very top of the largest company in the world is a real milestone for Latinas in corporate America and in our country. We hope and expect that Walmart’s decision will lead other corporations to recognize the importance of having Latinas represented in every aspect and at every level of their work.”
– Janet Murguia, President and CEO, National Council of La Raza (NCLR)