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August/September 2011

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Diversity In Action

The Home Depot IT pros find plenty of opportunities

"We're always looking for great talent, both skilled IT professionals and innovative business leaders," says the HR director for IT


Paul Wakim, HR director for IT at the Home Depot Inc, is "always looking for talented IT folks," he says. "We love bringing in people with diverse backgrounds, whether they're coming from retail or other industries."

Retail may not be the first area to come to mind for an IT pro looking for a job. But Wakim says the company hires skilled IT talent to do "almost every function you'd think of," from developers to architects to systems engineers and from help desk support to managers and more.

The Home Depot was founded in 1978. It's the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer and the fourth-largest retailer in the U.S. It has more than 2,200 retail stores in all, in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam, plus Canada, Mexico and China.

Its IT is equally broad based. "With any job in our IT shop, we offer the opportunity to learn cutting-edge technology," Wakim says. "We have a lot of developers across IT who work on innovative solutions for our stores."

Skill sets currently needed include Java and open-source programming, e-commerce and supply chain and merchandise systems. Most important, Wakim says, are team players with the desire to learn. "We're looking for people who demonstrate the ability to grow," Wakim says. "We focus on people who know how to teach themselves and want to learn and make an impact on the business. As we find people with the desire to excel, we can move them around the organization so they can learn more about other parts of the business and grow their careers here."

The Home Depot brings in about fifty college interns a year in addition to the skilled pros it hires, Wakim says. The IT department recruits from all major universities in the Southeast. "We have a robust and successful intern program. College students go through a ten-to-twelve-week hands-on experience. They work side by side with our full-time associates on actual projects. It's important to have a good diverse balance of new talent and seasoned professionals in the organization."

An internal staffing group looks for talent through online recruiting sites, and employees are always welcome to recommend talented friends and family.

Once hired, an IT pro may work at the store support center HQ in Atlanta, GA or at the technology center in Austin, TX. There are also opportunities in Mexico and Canada.

"We're always looking for great talent, both skilled IT professionals and business leaders," Wakim says. "We're a dynamic organization, and we move people around to learn different areas of the business. This is a great advantage not only to the company but to the associate."

New employees get diversity and inclusion information during orientation. Managers attend classes and programs with a diversity management focus. "We have a wide range of diversity groups within the company," says Wakim. "They include the Pan-Asian American, Women in Leadership, Military Appreciation and African American associate resource groups and more."

The company actively supports employee succession planning. "It's fluid," Wakim says. "Managers and their associates discuss career development throughout the year. We talk to the managers about who's ready for the next position and what the next step should be."

The Home Depot offers a teleworking program, remote-work opportunities and an employee assistance program. One of the company's core values is "giving back," Wakim says: all employees are expected to give back to their communities. IT employees have worked with Habitat for Humanity, building houses in both Atlanta and Austin, and they also help several Atlanta-area nonprofits with technology services.

The Home Depot, Wakim declares, is "an all-around place to work where people can achieve their IT career aspirations as well as be part of an inclusive work environment. It's a great place to learn and grow, develop a career, and make contributions to the business."

D/C




The Home Depot Inc
careers.homedepot.com.edgesuite.net

Headquarters: Atlanta, GA
Employees: more than 300,000
Revenues: $68 billion in FY 2010
Business: World's largest home improvement retailer; fourth largest retailer in the U.S.

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