More Than Hammers and Nails: Home Depot Is Empowering Its Employees Through The Power Of Technology
Photo Credit: AfroTech x Home Depot

More Than Hammers and Nails: Home Depot Is Empowering Its Employees Through The Power Of Technology

It’s officially fall, but orange represents more than the beautiful but temporary hue of the leaves. It has a more permanent effect as the staple color for The Home Depot. Nestled in communities across the nation, the eye-catching logo represents a place where buildings and home projects come alive. But The Home Depot is more than just a haven for the DIYers and pros of the world. It’s a home improvement retailer leveraging innovative thinking and technical prowess to enhance its customers’ experience and position itself as a leader in the tech industry. 

The Home Depot’s commitment to technology and innovation drives it beyond hammers and nails. From software engineers to the user experience design teams, The Home Depot offers diverse ways to utilize technology to support its different areas of business, such as marketing, HR, supply chain management and much more. These technological strides keep the organization at the cutting edge, but that performance would not be possible without its valuable team members.

Recently, AfroTech sat down with one of The Home Depot’s Directors of Technology, Felicia Rives, to discuss her role and experience.

It Was Clear From The Beginning

Rives had a very early interest in technology that led her to pursue computer science in college. Post graduation, she landed a role with The Home Depot as a developer and remained on the company’s technical track for several years. This hard work paid off when one of Rives’ managers recognized her innate ability for leadership and encouraged her to pursue a management track within the company — and that’s precisely what she did. Eventually she transitioned into a senior architect role, tasked with supporting the back end of store systems. 

Now serving as a Director, Rives is working on an initiative related to project selling. “We work to remove the friction that our customers experience when they are working on specialty categories like kitchens or bathrooms. This initiative is exciting because it supports our inverted pyramid model that puts our customers first while at the same time giving our associates the tools and resources needed to support customers during this process,” Rives explains.

Support Is A 360 Experience

The Home Depot has a people-first perspective that reaches both customers and employees. One of the company’s core values is taking care of people. Rives reflected on a time early in her career when this culture of support worked for her benefit. “When I was going through a tough season as a single parent, I struggled to balance career and family. But thankfully, I had a leader that took the time to understand my situation, and he allowed me to break away from the one-size-fits-all career path,” she passionately recalls. 

Named a Forbes top diversity employer in 2020, The Home Depot is using its culture of support and belonging as a means to reinforce its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). It’s intentional about fostering an environment that’s inclusive and supports people from all backgrounds and identities through programs like employee resource groups. Rives points out that dedication to DEI objectives is critical to the future of tech. “I spent a lot of time feeling like I had to justify myself and my title and prove that I was just as good or better than my peers. Today, I feel there have been many changes in the support because society is being challenged to redefine what a technologist looks like,” she describes.

 

Maximizing The Future

Rives did not achieve her success by happenstance. Her hard work, dedication and commitment to her values and beliefs led to her career ascension. While leaning into The Home Depot’s supportive culture, Rives was able to develop a few tips that can help those thinking of entering the tech industry or advancing their career.

  1. Maximize your strengths. It’s natural to focus on your flaws and weaknesses, but this often drains your energy. It’s more productive to target your career through the lens of your strengths. Maximizing your strengths also allows others to see you at your best instead of focusing on those areas in development.
  1. Stay connected with a mentor. Mentors can point out your blind spots and help you navigate through those difficult moments and situations. They’re also great at identifying personal strengths you may not notice.   
  1. Remain teachable. Stay hungry for knowledge and insight. Whether it’s career advice or sharpening your leadership skills, strive to continue adding to your personal “toolbox.” Expand your areas of expertise and knowledge of the new technology trends with activities like reading, attending conferences and asking for individual feedback.
  1. Speak up! Don’t underestimate the power of your voice. We’ve all been in a meeting where that one person won’t allow others to talk. And while you shouldn’t swing to that side of the pendulum, it’s essential to share your perspective when the opportunity is right. 
  1. Be resilient. You will make mistakes, but realize that there are always several paths out of one. Get back up and find your way back to your plan!

With more than 25 years of experience in the tech industry, Rives has been committed and open to change. Working in tech means leveraging the constant shifts in industry trends as opportunities for growth. Rives made sure she never got stuck on a “10-year goal” and instead continued to adapt as necessary to fuel her development as a technologist and team member at The Home Depot.

To discover how you can get into a tech career with The Home Depot, click here.

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with The Home Depot.