Wal-Mart Stores Chief Operating Officer Judith McKenna on Wednesday was named president and chief executive of its international unit effective February 1.
The role is seen by many as a stepping stone to the top job at the world's largest retailer, with current CEO Doug McMillon and his predecessor Mike Duke having run the international unit previously.
"I've had the pleasure to work with Judith for many years and have seen first-hand her ability to lead strategic change, build relationships with our associates and strengthen our business. Her integrity, high expectations and passion for the business and our associates will ensure our continued success in International," McMillon said in a statement.
The current International CEO, David Cheesewright, will stay with the retailer, on a limited basis, and work on unspecified company projects.
Wal-Mart's international business reported net sales of $29.55 billion in the last reported quarter, accounting for nearly a quarter of the company's total net sales.
McKenna's began at Walmart in 1996 at Asda, the company's U.K. operation, where she served as chief operating officer and CFO. McKenna also served as executive vice president of strategy and international development for Walmart International.
—CNBC contributed to this report.