Karenann Terrell, executive vice president and chief information officer for Wal-Mart Stores, is parting ways with the retail giant at the end of February. Terrell made her announcement public in a LinkedIn post Tuesday (Jan. 10).
In that post Terrell said she will take the next step in her career after leading technology for Walmart for the past six years. She noted to her friends and colleagues that it’s been a “wild ride and there is no bigger game.” Terrell credited Wal-Mart for its mission focused culture that puts customers first and its scale that is second to none.
“The learning for me has been exponential. I leave my work family and my Arkansas friends with great reluctance but also with great anticipation as I step boldly into a new frontier. … Walmart, you will always have my heart … but as of March my mind and energy will be otherwise engaged,” Terrell noted in the post.
She ended the post in typical true Walmart fashion citing the Walmart Cheer and thanking the retailer for teaching her the customer is always first. Terrell did not say where she is going, only that it is somewhere outside of Arkansas.
Terrell joined Walmart in December 2010 and was promoted to chief information officer in February 2012. For the past six years she has had the responsibility for the largest segments of the global Walmart Technology portfolio including Information Systems Division (ISD), Global Back Office Solutions, and Data and Analytics overseeing more than 5,000 technologists around the world.
Terrell is an engineer who spent 4 years at Baxter International before joining Wal-Mart. Prior to that she worked for DaimlerChrysler Group for six year rising to the rank of chief information officer. She graduated from Purdue University with an electrical engineering master’s degree in 1988. She has been a vocal voice for STEM education and the need for more mentoring of girls and women in this area as part of the Million Women Mentors program.
Two years ago Terrell was the keynote speaker at the first Northwest Arkansas Technology Conference. From that podium Terrell said she was proud to be an engineer in a family of teachers, but her parents never really understood what her job is. She challenged universities in Arkansas to put more emphasis on computer science graduates as just 1 in 17 technologies in the country graduated with a degree in computer science.
She said Northwest Arkansas has got to do a better job fostering STEM education and put as much emphasis on STEM as seen in the Walton College entrepreneurship and other business degree programs.
“If we don’t, we will miss an opportunity,” she said in 2014.
Terrell’s last day at Walmart will be Feb. 24 and CEO Doug McMillon noted in an internal memo to employees that new leadership in technology is expected to be announced soon.
The retail giant has been undergoing several top management changes in its IT division and elsewhere. Rosalind Brewer is stepping down as CEO of Sam’s Club at the end of January and Chris Sultemeier is retiring at the same time as CEO of Walmart Logistics. Since the acquisition of Jet, the Walmart Global e-Commerce CEO Neil Ashe has departed and Marc Lore, CEO and co-founder of Jet has taken over Walmart.com operations in addition to running Jet.com.
McMillon applauded Terrell for her service saying that her “character was clear – modernize our technology team and power our store and club businesses by enabling a seamless shopping experience at scale.”
Some of the work overseen by Terrell includes: geofencing around stores, Walmart Pay and the technology behind self check-out. She also helped to manage the retailers online grocery pickup platform.