Taking the world by storm, Carol Tomé stepped out of retirement in 2020 to take on her dream role of CEO at global shipping and logistics services company UPS.
Prior to UPS, Tomé worked for 24 years at Home Depot, where she worked with every CEO in the company’s history, starting with co-founders Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, Robert Nardelli, Frank Blake and Craig Menear.
Tomé retired from her role as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2019. “I was at peace. I’m like, this is going to be great. I’m going to do corporate boards, my foundation, my family office, the farm, and spend more time with my family and friends.”
However, her retirement was short-lived...
“Seriously bored,” with retired life on her farm, Tomé, who has had a career of making money and getting things done, stepped into the role of CEO at UPS - as she puts it - ‘breaking glasses’.
“I am the first outsider CEO (at UPS), the first woman CEO [in the company’s 114 years] and the first woman CEO in the industry,” said Tomé, who is currently one of four fortune 50 CEOs.
Commenting on her appointment, Blank said: “beyond her familiarity with UPS’s complex operations, she is simply an exceptional, thoughtful leader with uncommon financial acumen and a keen understanding of how important a thriving culture is to the success of a large business. I know she’ll be an outstanding leader for this great company, just as she was for so many years at the Home Depot.”
Menear added: “we at the Home Depot know Carol firsthand as an inspiring, strong, values-based leader. I’m confident she’ll carry that same great leadership to UPS.”
- Years on the UPS Board: 2003 - Present
- Became UPS CEO: 2020
- Years at Home Depot: 24 (1995-2019)
- Fortune 50: 1 of 4 women CEOs
Committed to ‘Better, not Bigger’
Discussing her return from retirement, Tomé said: “the [UPS] stock price had been flat for about six years. I’m like, I think I could get in there and swizzle the business model a little bit and create some value.”
“I like to make money,” added Tomé. “I have a pretty good track record at it. I thought I could really move the needle here, and that would be fun.”
Continuing the momentum of departing from typical UPS practice, Tomé began as she meant to go on - ‘shaking things up’. From implementing review boards and divestitures to same-day delivery, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, employee development, and local philanthropic engagement, Tomé has been working to change the way UPS operates to promote its strategy of being a customer first, people-led, and innovation-driven organisation.
Faced with the outbreak of COVID-19 and the eventual distribution of the vaccine, as well as rising market demands, and the company’s commitment to change for the ‘better not bigger’; from the off, Tomé was faced with world-changing challenges in her first 100 days as CEO.
“I thought I’d be travelling the world, meeting people, visiting our facilities, shaking hands and meeting customers [...] We’ve got lots of challenges here, but they’re fun to work on. We’re making some real good progress,” commented Tomé on the outbreak of COVID-19.
“As COVID took hold and our lives suddenly and drastically shifted, I was blown away by UPSers’ ability to react. There’s no playbook for something like that [...] A year later; I have a much deeper appreciation and respect for the professionalism, agility, humility and sense of service I see in the UPSers I meet [...] Someone asked me recently what makes me so optimistic about the future of UPS. To me, it’s simple. We can do anything. That’s the absolute truth.”