Kankiwala will succeed Laura Wade-Gery who will step down from the board when her term ends on 30 April 2021.
Kankiwala will bring 40 years’ experience in retail and consumer brands such as PepsiCo, Unilever and Burger King.
He started his career at Unilever in a number of commercial and operational roles, before moving to Pepsico where he became president of the soft drinks business in Europe and Africa, he then moved to Burger King International as president.
He continued his career within private equity led businesses and joined Hovis in 2014, initially as chairman and in the past five years as chief executive.
Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, added: “Nish is a fantastic appointment to the partnership board. He brings a wealth of experience in retail and fast moving consumer markets. He’s led well known global brands and ones with rich heritage and trust like the partnership.”