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Home Depot Exec and Georgia State Alumna Ann-Marie Campbell Shares Lessons from Experience

 

Ann-Marie Campbell’s rise from Home Depot cashier to president of the company’s Southern Division is a classic American Dream story, but she always mentions that it didn’t happen without help — or an occasional push to think bigger.

“I’ve always been a confident person, so when there have been times that I’ve lacked confidence, it’s not because I think that I’m not capable of doing one thing, it’s because I think I’m incapable of managing multiple things,” says the Georgia State University alumna. But, she adds, that’s a must-have skill for anyone aspiring to corporate management. “So what I’ve learned in my time is you’ve just got to put yourself out there, and you’ve got to be willing to not do everything to a level of absolute perfection — you can be good at certain things and great at others. But you’ve always got to be moving forward and pushing yourself beyond what you thought was possible.”

Those are lessons Campbell has passed on to many following in her footsteps at Home Depot — and, as a supporter of Georgia State’s Women’s Philanthropy Initiative, she also passed it along as the featured speaker at the WPI’s fall luncheon. Her presentation focused on “the importance of women leaders, the importance of having a voice and developing others, so that we can not only have some of the financial security we seek but also be more influential in some of our philanthropic efforts.”

Born in Jamaica, Campbell was already a few years into her Home Depot career when she joined the Executive MBA program at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business, earning her master’s in 2005.

Today Campbell finds great satisfaction in sharing her experiences with other women, explaining how she “navigated the waters” of the corporate world and dealt with obstacles along the way. Female role models in business are particularly important, she says, because of the unique challenges she and other women face. At the same time, she notes, some dilemmas are universal, as she’s discovered in watching her two college-age sons form their own career paths.

“How, for example, do you juggle this sense that you want to do good in the world with the expectation that you have a certain job?” she says. “You know what the right thing to do is for yourself, but is it going to please other people around you? Whether we’re men or women, all find ourselves confronting things that are not the right things to do for us personally, but may seem right in the broader audience. That type of thing is something that we all face.”