Karenann Terrell - Wal-Mart
Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Karenann Terrell is executive vice president and chief information officer for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. She has responsibility for the company’s global technology systems.
Karenann joined Walmart in 2010 as EVP of Information Systems. She previously was chief information officer of Baxter International, Inc.
Karenann served as chief information officer of the Chrysler Group and Mercedes-Benz North America. She began her career at General Motors.
Karenann serves on the board of directors for Women in Technology International and is a board member of Purdue University. Karenann has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Electrical Engineering.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
Innovation built America. Whether during the industrial revolution or the information revolution, it all comes down to innovation. In our future, it will be even more critical that core science and technology be at the root of innovation. Without a foundation and passion for STEM in the next generation, our ability to be the world’s innovators will not be true in the future as it has been in the past.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
Leadership has two sides of the coin to be effective when it comes to STEM. One is around inspiring people and the other is in finding and nurturing the talent of the individuals you manage. Both are critical for STEM because finding THAT type of talent and protecting and growing it is special… and it’s rare.
What principles do you, as a leader; apply to your professional and personal life to advance the STEM cause?
I see the future through the lens of sciences and technology. Not just because I’m a technical professional but because I see future innovation in many areas converging through the lens of technology. Technology enables closer communities for shopping, it enables capability to collapse borders in terms of real time communication. I am committed and passionate about enabling our future.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
Just because we aren’t represented in great numbers today, doesn’t mean we can’t be better represented in terms of leadership in the future. We know that science and technology will be pervasive in the future. What it takes for us to get from where we are today into a future of higher representation are vocal role models. It will take women right NOW who know that future leaders will be standing on our shoulders and we are going to have to speak out and recognize that the pipeline for STEM starts at the high school and college level and not the entry level job level. The way that we’re going to get more representation is to move backwards in that pipeline. What I can do, what we must all do is inspire and support that next generation.
What about STEM gives you passion?
Technology is going to fuel the world. It’s going to be the fuel of innovation. It’s going to be the fuel of productivity. It’s going to be the fuel of politics, entertainment, education and retail. What’s not to be passionate about when you can see the whole world as enabled through technology? It’s as if you can see the next natural resource that’s going to be required for success in any world. That’s what gives me my passion.