Q+A with ’04 Merchandising Alumna Karielle Day, Home Depot Director of Merchandising

Target and Home Depot aren’t exactly sister stores, but Karrielle Day has left her mark on both companies. She’s an ’04 merchandising alumna and currently the Director of Merchandising of Outdoor Storage and Install at The Home Depot. She works daily with vendors to determine assortments of goods and set price, promotion and profit goals.

What do you wish someone would have told you as you prepared to enter the workforce?
Prepare to do whatever it takes, which means lots of hard work and lots of hours. Also, there’s so much to learn and each role and person that you interact with will teach you about the industry, which is ever-evolving.

What piece of advice would you like to share with students currently looking for internships or full-time jobs?
I would recommend interviewing with as many potential employers as you can. Each interview builds your interview skills and could offer you a bright career path that you maybe had not previously considered. Having options, understand the potential of various career paths and keeping an open mind can boost your career and potential.

Describe your daily tasks and how they support your organization.
My daily tasks include working with a multitude of key partners, making my strong communication skills essential. I work daily with vendors to determine our assortment and set price, promotion and profit goals. Additionally, I work with a wide range of internal partners to manage my day to day business, marketing efforts, store execution and fix any problem that may arise. My team leaders and my merchandise planner are with me through it all. The planner role is an entry-level role supporting merchants that is essential to my daily tasks and the function of my job.

What is your favorite part of your job?
The people and the excitement. My team of vendors and internal partners are amazing and no day is ever dull!

What were your original career goals and major when you first arrived at IU? How did your career goals change over time during your time at IU?
My original career goal was to be a merchant and select product. While I do select product, my role is much broader, challenging and rewarding in total.

What has been your career path?
I started at Target as a merchandise planning analyst, then had eight subsequent roles in the ten years that I was with Target. I was a category buyer, product development buyer, merchandise planning manager and supply chain manager over the course of the years. In the four years that I have been with Home Depot, I have been a planning Senior Manager and a Merchandising Director of two different product categories.

What advice do you have for students exploring different career paths?
I would advise keeping an open mind and seeking to always learn.

Reflecting on your time at IU, what memories come to mind?
My professors were such an integral part of my coaching and development. I sought to learn from them and was very active on campus. The leadership and critical thinking skills that I learned at IU have been a priceless asset in driving my career.

Did you have a favorite class or professor during your time at IU?
The 413 Planning and Analysis class taught me the fundamentals of merchandising and gave me a huge advantage in understanding the basics of retail math once I started my career. Mrs. Shaffer and Ms. Paul were by far my favorite professors!

By Kiki Lin
Kiki Lin Peer Coach Kiki Lin