Wan Ling Martello
Wan Ling Martello

CHICAGO – Since last April 1, a Philippine-born American lady has assumed the positions of executive vice president (EVP) and chief financial officer (CFO) of the world’s biggest food company, it was reported.

Wan Ling Martello is now EVP and CFO of Nestle S.A.(NESN), said to be the world’s biggest food company with headquarters in Veyvey, Switzerland.

Martello, 53 years old, succeeded Jim Singh, who retired at 65 years old after working for 35 years at Nestle.

A graduate of the University of the Philippines, Martello was EVP of global e-commerce and emerging markets of Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, the global leader in terms of revenues and profits in the mall-shopping industry.

It was reported in Nestle’s website that Martello, a US citizen of Chinese and Philippine origin, is a certified public accountant with an MBA from the University of Minnesota and degree in bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accountancy from the University of the Philippines.

Nestle’s website reported that Martello has vast knowledge of finance and has solid experience in the food-and-beverage business as well as in retail.

She worked with Kraft Foods from 1985 to 1995 and with Borden Foods Corp. from 1995 to 1998.

From 1998 to 2005, she worked at NCH Marketing Services Inc., a former subsidiary of Nielsen, as chief financial officer, chief operating officer and president. In 2005-2011, Martello gained in-depth knowledge of the retail and e-commerce business at Walmart where she was senior vice president and chief finance officer. She later became Walmart International’s EVP and chief operating officer for global e-commerce and emerging markets.

Besides her outstanding financial background, Wan Ling also has extensive insight of the consumer and branded goods category and is said to be perfectly prepared to assume her crucial role in Nestle S.A.

Martello joins Nestle’s board whose 12 other executives have long experience of working at Nestle.

She is the second person from outside the Swiss company to be appointed to the CFO post in less than a decade. The first was Paul Polman, a former Procter & Gamble Co. executive and now head of Unilever, took care of Nestle’s finances from 2006 to early 2008.

Andrew Wood, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in New York, told investors, “For a company of too many ‘insiders’ at senior level positions, this external perspective and experience could prove to be very useful at Nestle.”