Divisional Vice President in Supply Chain
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Sherry’s career with Wal-mart has spanned 25 years and taken her to various locations across the country – including the West Coast, the East Coast, and points in between – and now also includes Puerto Rico. She has gained leadership experience in Wal-Mart’s regional distribution centers and stores, Sam’s Club operations, and Wal-Mart Private Fleet Transportation. As a panelist at the 2014 AWESOME Symposium, she stressed the importance of making decisions that work both professionally and personally.
Complete bio follows the Q&A.
Q: What was your first position with Wal-Mart, and when and why did you begin to realize your leadership potential?
A: In my first position with Wal-Mart, I worked as an hourly associate orderfiller in a distribution center in New Braunfels, TX. Originally, I took the job as a means to pay my way through college. However, one day Sam Walton came to our DC. He took the time to shake all of our hands and appreciated us for our work. My values aligned with his and Wal-Mart’s, so that’s when I knew that I wanted to grow and develop within the company. Throughout my career, I’ve had several leaders that have mentored me and have continued to stretch me with different assignments. With every assignment, I’ve matured as a leader and have gained confidence in my abilities to achieve even greater levels of responsibility.
Q: Between education and work, your bio shows quite a variety of geographies…Wisconsin, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and now, Florida and Puerto Rico. How did all this take place – and how has your willingness and ability to live and work in and travel to so many places supported your career?
A: My move from New Braunfels, TX to Porterville, CA was my first move to take on greater levels of responsibility. It was an opportunity to help support Wal-Mart’s growth on the West Coast since we were rapidly expanding at the time. The next several moves from California to Wisconsin to Kansas were all as a trailing spouse. My husband worked for Wal-Mart at the time, so we moved so that he could take on new challenges in his career. The first move that we made for my career as a couple was from Kansas City to Bentonville, AR. Our move to Florida, where we currently live, was also for my job. Having both spouses work gets complex, to say the least, but both of us have found a good balance in the way that we support each other and ensure that we are making the best decisions for our family. We’ve learned that in order to grow and develop your career it may require certain sacrifices such as moving to an unfamiliar territory to get the opportunity of a new, more challenging assignment.
Q: What excites you about your future in supply chain management?
A: I can’t think of a more exciting field to be in than supply chain management. The pace that the retail landscape is changing and how customer expectations/shopping habits are changing makes the differentiator between success and failure almost rest solely on how effective a company’s supply chain functions. The boundaries between digital and physical continue to become even more blurred, so the supply chain that identifies how to blend them seamlessly will win. Innovation is exciting and I’m so glad to be a part of it.
Sherry Harriman is a Divisional Vice President in Supply Chain for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. She has operating responsibility for three grocery distribution centers and four general merchandise distribution centers located in Florida and Puerto Rico. Her role includes responsibility for inventory management, inventory flow and replenishment, eCommerce, disaster relief, and store backroom process support. She was promoted to Divisional Vice President in February 2010.
Sherry’s previous role was as Regional Vice President, where she had operating responsibility for six grocery distribution centers and two general merchandise distribution centers located in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. She was promoted to Regional Vice President in 2007.
Since joining Wal-Mart in 1989, Sherry has served in various positions in the Regional Distribution Centers, Wal-Mart Stores, and Sam’s Club operations, and Wal-Mart Private Fleet Transportation. She began her Wal-Mart career as an hourly associate and has played key leadership roles in start-up initiatives in each of the divisions during her career.
She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and an MBA – International Business from John Brown University. She lives in Miami, FL with her husband, Sean, and their two sons, Ryan, and Tyler.