One of the great joys of attending the Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention is that its small scale allows for an intimacy that the large US conventions simply lack. One of the privileges that the Pundit has enjoyed over the years at that event was to sit down with Wayne McKnight over a coffee or a drink and soak in the wisdom.
Wayne is the Vice President of Global Procurement for Wal-Mart and before that was active in his native Canada at Sobeys, Co-Op Atlantic and the Oshawa Group.
More important than the resume is that Wayne has a remarkably supple mind. He is a brilliant strategist, not merely knowledgeable, but genuinely insightful. There are really very few people able to see what he sees.
He also happens to be a genuinely good person. When the Pundit has tried to raise money for various causes, he is one of the few who lifted a finger to help.
So a brilliant mind and a good man… and Wal-Mart is letting him go back to Canada??? It speaks volumes for how the top executives at Wal-Mart have become detached from what is really needed to succeed.
It is also part of continuing brain drain as industry luminaries, such as Bob DiPiazza and Bruce Peterson, have also left Wal-Mart.
What they will do with Wayne’s position, how Wal-Mart will reorganize after he leaves… all this we don’t know.
We do know that this is a big loss for Wal-Mart in one of its most important initiatives, and his availability will be a big gain for some lucky food company.
Wayne is working through the end of January. We wish him every good fortune in the next stage of his career.