On the evening of February 10, Tech welcomed new Home Depot Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ted Decker, to the Bill Moore Student Success Center at an event aimed at teaching students how to lead during tough times. The event was hosted by the Guiding Organization Leadership Development (GOLD) Route, a program whose events and workshops focus on student leadership and professional development.
The event was at full capacity with 100 registered attendees as well as Decker staff and school officials, including an appearance by President Àngel Cabrera.
The event opened with a networking opportunity for attendees to meet and mingle with Decker and enjoy snacks provided by Tech Dining.
Next, Decker was then interviewed by third-year IE Grace Mallon, covering topics such as how he started his career, his leadership style and how he led a multi-million dollar business through the pandemic. COVID-19 as the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Home Depot, prior to his promotion. Decker will take over as CEO on March 1.
Decker began working at The Home Depot in 2000. He initially held positions in strategic business development, finance and merchandising before being promoted to senior positions in the company.
“In the beginning, it was really about surviving and putting our customers and associates first,” Decker said.
Home Depot weathered the pandemic with a $40 billion increase in sales. As people spent more time at home, the demand for home improvement increased. Decker considers Home Depot lucky to have survived the challenges posed by the pandemic, especially compared to other industries, such as the travel industry, which have suffered a much greater impact from the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19.
At the start of the pandemic, Home Depot’s initial concern was to implement safety measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in stores, which included the use of social distancing signs and reduced hours of operation. opening of stores.
According to Decker, supporting associates who operate Home Depot stores was key to getting through the pandemic.
“They interact with hundreds of people a day. And they show up for work every day, putting themselves in danger,” Decker said.
In 2020, The Home Depot offered its associates weekly bonuses to account for the added risk incurred and paid time off when an associate or someone in their home was sick. In 2021, weekly bonuses became a permanent salary increase.
Associates have also found ways to get through tough times themselves, often by providing gifts and food to co-workers.
“We are so lucky [that], in 42 years as a company, the culture is so strong. The culture takes care of it and our associates take care of each other,” Decker said.
Decker went on to explain that outside of changes to corporate protocol and associate accommodations, workers have stepped up to take care of themselves and their communities in a way that corporate headquarters cannot. didn’t expect.
“There is nothing we could have done from the Store Support Center that could have impacted 500,000 people if we hadn’t had such a strong culture as it has been developed over 42 years,” said Decker said.
Then the interview turned to advice for tech students on taking on leadership positions and handling difficult situations from the position.
Decker talked about how building an effective team is essential to effective leadership. Quoting famous football player Peyton Manning, Decker said a leader should look for people who are talented, motivated to work hard and passionate about what they do.
But above all, an effective team member must have a sense of personal responsibility.
Decker said that same approach is effective for advancing one’s career — professional skills, hard work, passion and personal responsibility are all valuable traits to have.
“He’s someone who says ‘I’m responsible’, who cares, who takes pride in his work, who takes pride in the work of the team”,
Decker described the work environment students are entering today, where working from home is increasingly common. He said the best method to deal with isolation is empathy.
Virtual work has caused people to miss out on social interactions that contribute to work experience.
While necessary for the safety of workers and their community, Decker said he tries to understand the experiences people lose and grieve as a result of working from home.
“The only constant thing in life is change…Don’t get used to it, embrace it because you will grow so much in times of adversity,” Decker said.
Malin then discussed the student perspective, asking how students just entering the professional field can develop the skills needed to be effective in their jobs.
Decker described good workers, and therefore good teams, as having a balance between expertise in a specific topic and knowledge of a generalist. Generalists make good leaders, but it’s more effective to start your career developing specific expertise and then later developing the generalist perspective and leadership ability.
Decker concluded the event by discussing the importance of personal development. He strives to maintain social ties with his team members, because creating connections within the company and the community can contribute to his happiness and make him an effective worker. This sense of community is the foundation of effective management of adversity as a team.
“Life is an endurance sport, and you’re going to have professional and personal adversity, and being resilient is just a huge part, ultimately, of being happy,” Decker said.