Spotlight

MEET SUMMERWOOD’S TECHNOLOGY TRAILBLAZER TERRY B

We’re celebrating 38 years of Terry B. this year at Summerwood! Our Vice President (VP) & Chief Technology Officer (CTO) since 1999, she’s so critical to day-to-day operations, we don’t know what we’d do without her!

Summerwood believed in me when others would not.” -Terry B., VP & CTO

Terry didn’t start her career anywhere near the QSR field — it was boredom that brought her here. Or was it destiny? After getting undergrad degrees in applied math and chemistry, Terry went on to pursue her original passion to become a biomedical engineer, starting out in a hospital lab.

“After a few years, I got bored,” she admits. But at Summerwood, she‘s been anything but!

“Technology in the field changes,” she says. “Now, technology controls everything. If technology isn’t working, the restaurant can’t open, team members don’t know what food to make …” Digital advancements in the quick service setting over the years made it a more interesting fit for Terry.

THE BACK STORY

It all started with a newspaper ad. In 1986, Terry responded to a job posting for an administrative assistant to support owner Jim N. From there, Summerwood’s advancements arose out of a tech department that remained a party of one for 20 years!

Terry says she interviewed directly with Jim who shared that he wanted to build a network so that all of the office computers “could talk to each other.” At the time, Summerwood had just three Burger Kings, but he was getting ready to purchase more restaurants. 

According to Terry, Jim asked if she’d be willing to go back to school to get the credentials needed — a master’s degree in computer science — to bring his computer networking vision to life. Summerwood would cover the cost of classes, she says, but only if she got an “A”!

Terry accepted the challenge. After all, computers were not foreign to her; she had experience working on Hewlett-Packard (HP) mainframes and had taken undergrad computer courses.

“[Jim] developed me into what he needed,” she says. Nearly four years later, after squeezing in courses day and night while working for Summerwood, Terry got her master’s with a 4.0 GPA!

“They believed in me, they encouraged me,” she says of Summerwood.

AN ADVOCATE, AN INSPIRATION

Not only has Terry built up an entire department to meet the needs of our increasingly digital world, but her accomplishments and activities today are equally impressive. Under her leadership, Summerwood is a two-time winner of Taco Bell’s Technology Award.

Earlier this year, Terry was named to Summerwood’s board of directors. She’s also been a minority owner in the company since 2021, when she became Taco Bell’s first ever African American female owner. That’s what makes it fitting to see her inducted into our company’s Hall of Fame.

Terry says she also feels proud of being the first person of color to join FRANMAC’s Technology Committee. Her list of accomplishments continues! She’s on the advisory board for Midsize Enterprise Summit (MES), and lectures at various universities and forums where she encourages women and minorities to consider STEM programs.

She’s just returned after two days at the Pennsylvania state capitol where she helped advocate for the passing of The Crown Act with service organization The Links Incorporated (whose distinguished members include former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Alma Powell, wife of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell).

Terry doesn’t sound like a woman who tires easily. While she attempted to retire a few years ago, she has no new plans to try again anytime soon. Great news for us at Summerwood! We’re counting on her passion and advocacy to inspire rising leaders like Jordan C.!