One of Best Buy’s most senior executives who helped steer it through a remarkable turnaround is leaving the company, saying the timing is right for her to move on when the company is doing well.
Shari Ballard has had a 25-year career with the Richfield-based electronics retailer, rising from an assistant store manager to become a fixture in its C-suite through some of the company’s most turbulent times as many other executives came and went.
Ballard, 52, is currently president of multichannel retail overseeing stores, e-commerce, Best Buy Mexico and real estate. She sent an e-mail to employees Wednesday afternoon announcing her departure.
“My reason for leaving, as simple as it sounds, is that it’s time,” she wrote in the e-mail, which was obtained by the Star Tribune.
“I’m not leaving because I’m going somewhere else [I’m not] or because I believe any less in our mission [I don’t]. I’m leaving because it’s time for me to explore the post Best Buy version of me and to grow and learn in new ways,” said Ballard, also a senior executive vice president. “There is a season to everything, and given the strength of this team and the strength of the company, the timing is right for my journey here to end.”
Ballard is one of several high-ranking female executives who have in recent years filled as many as half of the top roles at Best Buy, a domain that was once highly male-dominated. Ballard has been included several times on Fortune magazine’s annual list of the “Most Powerful Women in Business.” In 2017, she was ranked No. 33 on the list.
A source familiar with the matter said CEO Hubert Joly tried unsuccessfully to keep Ballard at Best Buy.
“She has been a great partner for me and has certainly become a lifelong friend,” Joly wrote in an internal memo to employees. “While I understand her decision to move to the next phase of her professional life, I know I echo your sentiment when I say that we will miss her deeply when she leaves.”
Ballard will finish her day-to-day duties on August 3. The company does not plan to replace her, distributing her responsibilities to other executives. She will continue at Best Buy through March to help with the transition and to work on a Best Buy-sponsored community project serving underserved youth in north Minneapolis.
While many critics thought Best Buy would not survive the rise of Amazon, the company has managed to become one of the surprising success stories in retail amid the shift to online shopping. Under Joly, who joined the company in 2012, Best Buy has managed to turn around its business by matching online prices, refocusing and improving the service in stores and showcasing its major vendors with mini-shops carved out within its stores.
More recently, Best Buy has also benefited from an upswing in sales of consumer electronics, with its comparable sales jumping 5.6 percent last year. The company’s shares have more than doubled in the last couple of years and are now trading in the mid-$70s.
Ballard has held various roles throughout her tenure at Best Buy, including head of human resources. In 2007, she became head of Best Buy’s U.S. stores and later oversaw its international division, At some points, she has had dual positions as the company reconfigured its leadership structure.
She graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint, where she delivered the commencement address last year.
She also started her career at a Best Buy store in Flint — and that’s where she plans to end it. Ballard said she will spend her last day in her current position at that store, referred to internally as store No. 411.