How Working In A $100 Billion Retailer Gives Entrepreneurial Vibes
Photo Credit: Photo: The Home Depot

How Working In A $100 Billion Retailer Gives Entrepreneurial Vibes

Tia Likely, technology director at The Home Depot, talks about her experience working in tech

Building from the ground-up is an experience that The Home Depot likes to offer both its customers and associates alike. As the world’s largest home improvement retailer, The Home Depot provides its associates a wide range of skills to excel in their field of work, especially in the field of technology. 

Although the company is a $100 billion retailer with multiple offices in Atlanta, technology centers in Austin and Dallas, and other locations around the country, there are projects executed that give associates more responsibility, which can instill a sense of ownership and the opportunity to contribute firsthand to the corporation’s growth. These are the vibes that employees seeking technology positions likely receive from a startup, but it happens within the walls of The Home Depot.

Tia Likely, technology director of customer and loyalty, spoke with AfroTech about how working in technology at The Home Depot can directly impact the company’s growth. The contribution to projects empowers associates to make the best decisions in any aspect. The Home Depot’s Technology team makes an effort to cater to customer needs by learning about their experience shopping in stores and online, according to Likely. One strategy that the company uses is interconnected retail, which intertwines the virtual world and the physical world together, so that the customer’s experience is “frictionless,” as mentioned in an article from Stores.org.

“When we talk about a concept called interconnected retail, that’s really around how our customers engage with us, whether it’s in stores, online, with our app and then how do we provide truly meaningful experiences for them,” said Likely. “As our level of sophistication has grown we also have a better understanding around how a customer may shop for an appliance, like a refrigerator is different than their journey if they’re shopping for paint or a power tool.”

Likely said figuring out how to organize the company’s software engineering teams and incorporating software and product management with an approach akin to startups helps offer customers the best shopping experience. One solution is introducing technology teams to shared applications and technology stacks. A term frequently used in the tech field, stacks refer to the underlying foundation of programming and software methods used in a specific project.  

The process of accomplishing this goal is building teams of six to eight associates that are subject matter experts in their field. The teams are comprised of software engineers, product managers and UX designers who join together and for example, mockup and launch a best-in-class online paint shopping experience.

“These teams are independent,” said Likely. “They’re off and running and they can focus on those customized experiences that we need them to without too much overhead and it allows them to operate pretty fast. Typically teams can release [updates] multiple times in a week, which is very different than where we were two or three years ago.”

Likely says working in Technology at The Home Depot is never boring. By using multiple coding languages and platforms, associates are able to access the latest and greatest technologies and platforms that are out there for developers. 

“A lot of the work that we do is definitely moving the needle,” said Likely. “We have access to a lot of platforms. We have big problems to solve and I think what’s unique for us is the scale at which we operate and the opportunity to solve technology problems online.” 

She said working at a startup, much of the work is software and technology focused to help solve a specific problem. 

“A lot of times your experiences are purely online or web-based or app-based,” added Likely. “At The Home Depot in Technology, we’re solving problems across the board –it’s really vast and to be able to try to solve those problems on a scale, I think is really unique.”

Home Depot uses approaches such as agile methodologies, paired-programming, balanced teams and customer-back engineering approach to help bring products to market, according to a press release from the company. 

Technology has impacted The Home Depot’s success in various ways, and it has been used to benefit the company’s merchandising, corporate systems, human resources, and its mobile app for smartphones. 

Some features of the mobile app developed by The Home Depot include searching for products by the barcode, viewing images and utilizing voice or text for product search. If a customer is in the store, they can even use the app’s location tracker feature to point them in the direction of trending products.

Technology associates work on various projects such as online infrastructure, security operation, cybersecurity and the company’s mobile app in their technology offices nationwide. This opportunity offers them a focused and innovative approach when it comes to contributing to the company’s reputation as an early-adopter in the field of tech. 

“We put a high premium on collaboration and in relationships,” said Likely. “That’s really key for us also in the community, internally and externally. To really kind of come in and learn a lot and learn about the business and you get to learn how we do things on a scale and have access to a lot of technology.”

The Home Depot also supports associates with their internal learning and training organization called the OrangeMethod. This program equips associates with the knowledge they need to excel in their positions and prep them for future leadership roles. 

As the company continues to invest and excel in the technology sector, Likely believes that technology will become more a part of the company’s DNA.

“Things are moving so fast,” added Likely. “So it’s not just around how do we leverage new technologies that come and go, but how do we think of ourselves as a technology company and not just a home improvement company — and the more that we can embrace that, I think the better we can serve our associates and our customers.”

Those looking to pursue careers in software engineering, user experience, product management and more at The Home Depot can learn more about opportunities by visiting www.careers.homedepot.com/technology.

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