Ann-Marie Campbell, Southern Division President, The Home Depot
An American Dreamer
By L. Nicole Williams
Ann-Marie Campbell, Southern Division President at The Home Depot, is living the American Dream.
The Jamaican-born executive has overcome tragedy and inequity to become the first woman in the U.S. to lead a division for the Fortune 500 powerhouse. She is responsible for the sales and operations of more than 640 stores, and leads a team of more than 100,000 associates in 15 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.
At the tender age of two, Campbell lost her father, an electrical engineer, to a fatal car accident. He was only 26 years old.
“You kind of don’t miss what you don’t have but, then, there are those days when I wonder what it would’ve been like,” says Campbell.
Reflecting on the impact of the loss, she adds, “My mother was widowed with three young children. She had to work, so my grandmother stepped in to help rear me.”.
Campbell’s grandmother sent her to boarding school, “which gave me a strong sense of independence at an early age.”.
Spending most of her time alone – without a family nucleus – relationships during her childhood were fleeting. She relied heavily on people outside of her immediate family circle.
Campbell says, “I’ve learned to establish much more substantial relationships because of that.”
For 25 years, she has been married to internationally-trained Jamaican chef and restaurateur Chris Campbell. The couple has two sons, a freshman at the University of Alabama and junior at Woodward Academy.
Little PINK Book sat down to chat with Campbell about her journey to the top, and where she’s headed next.
Little PINK Book: How long have you been working for The Home Depot?
Ann-Marie Campbell: I started as a cashier in Miami 28 years ago, as of April.
LPB: Your climb up the corporate ladder is impressive, especially with so few women in such roles. How did you do it?
AMC: I’ve made the normal progression that happens in retail. When I was given opportunities, I took them – which meant relocating around the country to take on new roles. I moved to California to become the Regional Vice President of Operations, where I managed the Pacific South. I moved to Atlanta as the Vice President of Operations and progressed into Regional Vice President. I’ve worked in merchandising, e-commerce … I’ve had a lot of jobs.
LPB: You know the company pretty well?
AMC: Yes. I’ve worked in every area of the business. It has kept things interesting.
LPB: Why are you comfortable being the only woman in the room?
AMC: When I reflect on my early years in this industry, I was surrounded by a ton of men but it didn’t seem that much different for me. My immediate network at home consists of men. I also have two brothers and my husband has five; I’m used to dealing with men.
LPB: What type of legacy do you want to leave?
AMC: When I meet female associates, it’s foreign to them to see a woman at my level. Until they see a woman in my position it’s hard for them to imagine.
I don’t want to be remembered as someone who just thought of herself. I want to be remembered as person who paved the way for others. Someone paved the way for me, and I want to pave the way for someone else.
LPB: How do you define success?
AMC: I define personal success by my ability to maximize my professional career, but at the same time not give up too much of my personal self. There have been times in my life that I felt that I was successful professionally, but gave up too much personally. Now, I look at where I am from a family balance standpoint, and I don’t see success if there isn’t appropriate balance.
LPB: What’s one personal goal you haven’t achieved?
AMC: I truly don’t have too many locked goals at this point. It’s like “Wow, I didn’t expect to be here.” At one point I said to myself I want to write a book. I’ve not done that yet. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and want to get accomplished. I want to capsule what I’ve learned in my career and share it with others.
LPB: How do you wind down and relax?
AMC: I read a lot of books; all different types of books and I like to go to the spa. In my business it is important to stay up to date on current events, business trends and the latest news. I’m currently reading the Price of Inequality.
I use an app called Pulse on my iPhone. It brings all of my favorite blogs, magazines, social networks and newspapers together in one place. I like to listen to music, too. My son laughs at me because I love Michael Bolton.
LPB: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
AMC: “It’s only when you develop others that you personally succeed.” It’s my guiding principle; my internal mantra.
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