Kevin Turner: From Cashier at Wal-Mart to Chief Operating Officer of Microsoft

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''Nothing succeeds like success,'' they say. This maxim applies to Kevin Turner, the chief operating officer of Microsoft. A decision to make a career change early in his life saved him from stagnation. Starting his career as a cashier at Wal-Mart, Turner soon shifted gears to gain expertise in IT. The experience and expertise garnered over the years helped him rise through the ranks and become the executive vice president and chief information officer of Wal-Mart. With a B.S. in Management from East Central University in Ada, OK, Turner, in 1997, won the prestigious ''Sam M. Walton - Entrepreneur of the Year'' award, the highest honor given to a Wal-Mart employee.

His second decisive career turnaround was in 2005, when Microsoft hired Turner as its chief operating officer. Microsoft’s offer included a handsome base salary of $570,000 per year, a $7 million up-front payment, and stock awards to compensate for the stock-based pay that he lost after leaving Wal-Mart. Turner moved with his family to Washington to oversee the strategic and operational leadership of Microsoft’s worldwide sales, marketing, and services organization (SMS&G). Of his move to Microsoft, Tuner said, “I appreciate all of the opportunities that Wal-Mart has provided to me during my 19-year career there, and I’m thrilled to bring that experience to Microsoft.”

SMS&G is a sprawling organization with more than 35,000 employees, including field sales and marketing professionals. In addition to driving sales and marketing programs, Turner’s responsibilities include corporate support of client organizations, product and customer support services, branding, advertising, public relations, marketing research, and relationship marketing. Turner is also responsible for corporate operations and internal information technology that supports the work of more than 70,000 Microsoft employees around the world. Over the years, he has risen to become part of the senior leadership team that, along with Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and five other senior executives, designs the overall strategy and direction for Microsoft.

Turner’s professional dedication has been recognized by the industry. In 2003, East Central University named him a distinguished alumnus. TIME Magazine included him on its list of “People to Watch in International Business.” He was ranked number four on FORTUNE Magazine's “40 Under 40” list and was among Business 2.0's “The 20 Young Execs You Need To Know.” Turner has also received CIO Magazine's 20/20 Vision Award and a CIO 100 Award.

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