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Home Depot’s ex-finance chief to become CEO of UPS

March 12, 2020, 5:30 PM UTC

Carol Tomé will soon become the first outsider, sort of, in United Parcel Service’s long history.

Tomé, the former CFO of The Home Depot, is not quite an outsider, having served on the UPS board since 2003, giving her deep inside knowledge of the shipping giant and winning her the top job. She will take the reins on June 1, UPS said on Thursday.

She will replace, David Abney, a UPS lifer who became CEO in 2014 after a long career during which he rose from package-loader. Her appointment continues a trend to bring in more outsiders into the UPS fold: as reported by Fortune in December, one-third of UPS’s 12-person senior management team is currently made up of outsiders, a big switch for a 113-year-old company long known for nurturing talent in-house. That has included a CFO from PepsiCo and a head of transformation from Walmart.

Including women currently in CEO roles and those not yet in the job but whose appointments have been announced, like Tomé, the Fortune 500 now includes 38 female CEOs. That will drop by two to 36 once the chiefs of IBM and KeyCorp leave this spring.

Tomé, 63, was a key architect of the team of top executives that helped Home Depot emerge from the 2008-09 financial and housing crisis and become one of the best performing major retailers in the country by revenue growth and stock performance. She was a leading candidate to become Home Depot’s CEO in 2014 and stayed on for five more years despite not snagging the top job. Over the course of her time there, including 18 years as CFO, she worked with five CEOs.

She will have big shoes to fill. On Abney’s watch, UPS embraced the growth of e-commerce, quickly investing in its online infrastructure. The company delivers for nine of the 10 largest U.S. retailers by revenue and works with Amazon.com even as that company builds up its own delivery network, raising concerns on Wall Street about that tight relationship. Amazon last year spent $8.6 billion having UPS delivery its packages—11.6% of its $74 billion in revenue last year.

As detailed in the Fortune article, UPS is experimenting will all sorts of technology including drones to protect its position in e-commerce delivery, a market FedEx initially was slow to embrace but is now competing in more aggressively.

The more recent move to seven-day delivery has also been a big deal for UPS. It required UPS to develop a more flexible—and less expensive—delivery fleet, as well as investing in new technologies like automation, robotics, and drones. UPS is a highly complex operation: The company delivers nearly 22 million packages a day and operates a fleet of 600 planes and thousands of vehicles, with half a million employees worldwide.

Those play to Tomé’s strengths. Home Depot has seen explosive sales growth in the last decade thanks to its culture of constant reinvention and the use of tech to keep its physical stores relevant to customers, particularly the contractors that generate the bulk of its sales.

That experience and Tomé’s deep familiarity with UPS made her the perfect candidate for the top job.

“Carol was the clear choice,” said William Johnson, UPS’ lead independent director. “Carol has in-depth knowledge of UPS’s business, strategy and people.”

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