lululemon CIO & EVP on creating a culture of inclusion in retail

The List 2024 honoree Julie Averill answers “20 Questions”
By NRF Foundation Contributor

lululemon Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President Julie Averill will be celebrated at the NRF Foundation Honors as one of the dynamic leaders on The List of People Shaping Retail’s Future 2024. She shares her first job in customer service, how retail ignites her passion, and why sometimes taking a step down is taking a step forward.

Here are a few questions, along with Averill’s answers (watch the video above for all “20 Questions”):

What was your first job? 

My first job was in high school. I worked at Wendy's and every Sunday I would dress up as Wendy and hand out balloons to the kids that came in.

Why is retail the industry you picked for your career? 

I'm not sure that I chose retail as much as I lucked into it. I did some consulting work early on in the days of e-commerce and got a lot of exposure to different industries. Retail was the one that really ignited my passion because you can see the whole spectrum of the business at one time from what you're manufacturing to how it delights your guests to how you fulfill that. Retail has all the pieces that just make this job really exciting.

What is the biggest risk you have taken in your career? 

Several times in my career I have taken a step down in order to be able to, in the long-term, take a step forward. 

What qualities do you look for in your employees?

There are two things that we really look for, which is the what as well as the how. The “what” you do has to do with the ability to do your job, but equally important is “how” you do it. We believe that by creating an environment where we have inclusion, where everyone can operate on the same level, that we bring out the best in everyone.

What is one misconception about retail that you would love to debunk for everyone?

I would like to debunk the myth that technology is not critical in retail. While that may have been the case when I first started my career, it is not the case now. Technology is what unlocks our company's strategy and enables the company to grow and to find new opportunities.

The NRF Foundation connects people to an industry that’s a great place to start and a great place to grow. Since 2015, the NRF Foundation Honors has raised the funds to continue to provide programs and resources to help people build better lives and stronger communities. Join us in New York City and be a part of the story of how retail builds extraordinary careers.