UP grad named CFO of world's biggest food group

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2011 04:56 PM | Updated as of Sep 29 2011 07:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Wan Ling Martello, an American citizen of Filipino-Chinese descent, has been appointed the new executive vice president and chief finance officer of the world's biggest food company Nestle S.A.

Martello replaces Canadian Jim Singh, who retired after 35 years with Nestle.

The board of directors of the Switzerland-based conglomerate appointed Martello, currently Walmart's executive vice president of global e-commerce for emerging markets, effective April 1, 2012.

Wan Ling Martello, new Nestle chief financial officer & executive vice-president (courtesy of Nestle)

Martello is a US citizen of Chinese and Philippine origin. She is a certified public accountant with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Accountancy from the University of the Philippines-Diliman. She also has an MBA from the University of Minnesota.

"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," said Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke.

Kepler Capital Markets analyst Jon Cox said: "Wow! This is probably an indication of how much more modern the company has become over the last decade in terms of a female appointment and an American."

"To be honest Nestle is a well oiled machine packed with management talent so a change should not make much of a difference to overall strategy," Cox said.

Martello has extensive experience in finance, as well as the food and beverage and retail segments. She previously worked with Kraft Foods, Borden Foods Corp. and NCH Marketing Services Inc., a former subsidiary of Nielsen.

She joined Walmart in 2005, where she gained extensive experience in retail and e-commerce business at Walmart. 

Martello won the 2008 Asian Women in Business (AWIB) Corporate Leadership Award in 2008 when she was still CFO for Wal-Mart.

According to the AWIB website, Martello was born and raised in the Philippines, but she and her family immigrated to the US for better educational opportunities.

The website said Martello's father was her role model and mentor, who "taught her self-reliance and clear thinking".

Asked for advice to women climbing the corporate ladder, Martello said "you are the master of your own destiny ... and never forget it is just as important to help others to succeed as well".   - with Reuters