Australian expat named as one of 6 top-earning Walmart executives

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 27th April 2020

The top six executives of one of America’s biggest companies Walmart earned compensation combined of US$112.39 million in 2019 according to a proxy filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week and reported online by Arkansas-based last week.

Amongst them was expatriate Australian executive Kathryn McLay who is the current CEO of Walmart subsidiary Sam’s Club. Although appointed to that role in November 2019, just two months before the company’s fiscal year-end, McLay was previously running  Walmart Neighborhood Markets.

According to the filing, her total 2020 compensation was US $13.508 million. Her prorated base pay was US $640,409 and she received stock awards of US $7.323 million and a performance bonus of US $ 960,941. McLay also received a pro-rated pension deferred payment of $2,479 and other compensation of $17,901. She also deferred $12,500 of her salary.’s report said Walmart’s top executive officers benefited from a profitable year. Walmart grew revenue to US $523.96 billion, up 1.85% in fiscal 2020, but operating income was lower at US $20.569 billion. These mixed financial results did factor into the exec bonus pay which was slightly lower than received in the prior year.

Kathryn McLay, who graduated in Commerce from Sydney’s University of Technology in 1996, and later joined Woolworths  in 2001 starting in accounting audit and subsequently cost control management but her last 4 years at Woolworths Australia also included senior management positions in Business Development, Logistics, and Replenishment.

McLay made the shift to the US joining Walmart in April 2015 starting with a key role in Strategy development for Walmart and appears to have worked in conjunction with another ex-Woolworths Australia star recruit Greg Foran, who had been headhunted from Australia to become chief of Walmart’s U.S. stores.

In his five years of leadership, Foran generates  a turnaround in the performance of the group as well as 20 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth. That growth was a major reason why Walmart share price doubled during Foran’s tenure there.

According to commentator Jeremy Bowman of Motley Fool, Foran’s leadership “helped to eliminate stock-outs, streamline inventory, improve customer service, and focus on its online grocery juggernaut.”

Foran, who is a Kiwi, left Walmart at the end of 2019 to take the reins of Air New Zealand. Despite him taking on the CEO role at Air New Zealand just before the Covid-19 pandemic’s disastrous impact for the aviation industry, Air New Zealand could not be in better strategic managerial hands.

Meanwhile McLay’s continuing managerial and entrepreneurial talent at Walmart has impressed several American observers and marks her as one of the brightest lights amongst Australian expats near the top of one of the leading business enterprises in North America.