Carol Tomé (MBA ’81), a DU alumna, Home Depot’s chief financial officer and executive vice president of corporate services gave her first commencement address to DU’s graduate students on June 8, 2018.
Twice, Forbes magazine has recognized her as one of the most powerful women in business. The Wall Street Journal ranked her second on its list of the best chief financial officers. Home Depot is the largest home improvement retailer in the world.
These days, however, Tomé measures her success differently.
“It is all about the impact that I’ve had on others,” she says, “the ability to grow an amazing team, to watch people take on roles that they never thought they would have.”
“Everyone needs to build up their own sense of self-confidence so they don’t have that fear [of failure],” she says, “because what’s the worst that could happen? You get fired. OK, go get another job. Just don’t worry about it so much. Because if you have fear of failing, you miss out on incredible opportunities.”
Staying rooted in reality and living with purpose were central themes in Tomé’s upcoming speech. Her strategy was to “be bold, be brief and be gone,” she said with a laugh.
“It’s all about learning that your message is not about you,” she says. “It’s not: ‘what do you want to say?’ [It’s,] ‘what do they want to hear?’ And I hope they repeat a few things.”