Then & Now: Hood finds balance in Home Depot role
Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the Jan. 16 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.
Michelle Hood said a common thread throughout her career has been “being an entrepreneur at heart” as she looks to help others grow and advance in their careers.
Hood recently left a position at Walmart to help care for her father before accepting a similar role with Atlanta-based home improvement retailer Home Depot.
In 2013, she moved from Fort Smith to Bentonville after marrying James Hood the previous year. She moved for career opportunities and to be closer to family.
Hood was the business development and special programs director for the Arkansas Capital Corp. Group in Fort Smith when the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal named her to the Forty Under 40 class in 2009.
“At Arkansas Capital, I had the opportunity to create and drive the development of new programs related to broadband and economic development,” she said. “That grew into the opportunity to come to Northwest Arkansas for Zebra.”
In 2013, she moved to Bentonville to join Motorola Enterprise Solutions, which became Zebra Technologies. There, she worked on new hardware and software tools that Walmart deployed, including the launch of store pickup known as Click ‘n Pull.
Hood, 50, explained the service that became curbside pickup and its significance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It started with the Sam’s Club in Bentonville,” she said. “We had put in a kiosk, and that’s how it all started and grew from there. It’s a great memory that I’ve had and one of the career highlights that I’ve had, too.”
In 2015, she joined Tyson Foods in Springdale as a senior product manager and helped to redefine a portfolio of foods to be healthier and more sustainable. She said her knowledge of how consumer packaged goods companies worked was an essential skill for the role that led her to join Walmart in 2018.
She started as a senior manager and helped to replace the Bentonville-based retailer’s legacy sales management tools.
“Who in their right mind wouldn’t jump in on that and have a global impact shaping how GS1 collects data on products,” she said. “We did have a seat at the table for redefining their data models and helping Walmart combine their online world with their digital store world as far as their catalog.”
In 2021, Walmart promoted her to principal product manager for associate experience. She worked on a project to provide store employees with handheld devices and helped to develop store management software.
She initially left Walmart to better care for her aging father. In July, a former Walmart co-worker recruited her to join Home Depot. Hood comprises a small team of corporate employees who work remotely in Northwest Arkansas.
“Home Depot is very much a culture of taking care of your family,” she said. “They see the company as a family. It’s allowed me to care for my dad more closely and continue my career.”
She manages principal product managers and oversees a team of six employees working on technology initiatives to develop tools that improve operations and customer experience. That might include replacing and improving technology that consumers use directly or indirectly, such as its website and at the store checkout.
The highlight of her career has been working with others to help them achieve their goals. Along with the store-pickup initiative, other highlights included working to combine 3 million items from online and in the store into one catalog at Walmart and the opportunity to build the tools to advance company operations.
Over the next few years, she looks to grow and develop her team at Home Depot and help them progress in their careers.
Hood and her husband have a daughter and two grandchildren.
She volunteers for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville and Girls on the Run. She enjoys running, mountain biking and climbing. In 2021, she scaled Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States, and last year, she ran in the Boston Marathon. She recently qualified again, was accepted to run in the Boston Marathon this year, and looks to compete internationally.