Merchandise Director, Lowe's, Charlotte, NC
Nicolle Thompson's Tippie MBA degree has made a difference in her life. It is an important factor in providing her the opportunity to make a career change from corporate finance to retail merchandising and buying.
After graduating from Cornell College in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Business, Nicolle accepted a finance position with Marshall Field’s, a division of Target Corporation. Over the course of four years, she rotated through departments and roles within the finance organization. Although these experiences were invaluable, Nicolle knew her passion was retail and the “science” of why people buy.
In 2004, Target Corporation announced plans to sell the division to Macy’s Corporation. Unsure what this meant for her future, Nicolle saw this as an opportunity to pursue her MBA fulltime. At Tippie, she took advantage of opportunities that complemented her marketing concentration and finance background in preparation for a career change. Nicolle traveled to Hong Kong as part of Tippie’s Global Perspective Program, participated in the Cadillac Case Study Competition, and was active in student organizations.
Nicolle began her career at Lowe’s with an MBA summer internship in Financial Planning and Analysis. After graduation she returned to Lowe’s, accepting a 6-month rotational position in the Merchandise Manager in Training program. She began as a Merchandise Manager for Home Organization, where she was involved with vendor and product development, marketing strategy, financial analysis, in-store merchandising, and growing the online business.
She moved next to a position as a Merchandise Manager for Wall Tile, where she managed product selection, promotional and marketing strategy, vendor negotiation, and financial analysis, all while keeping the pulse of industry trends and competition. In 2011, she won the title of Merchandise Manager of the Year for the financial performance, product selection, and shopping experience in wall tile.
In 2012, Nicole was promoted to the position of Merchandise Director, where in addition to buyer and vendor negotiation, she manages the strategy and defines the future of the category. She leads the Cleaning and Storage team, which is responsible for household cleaning chemicals, paper products, drain care, professional cleaning products, indoor trash cans/bags, mops/brooms, plastic storage, and laundry. Lowe’s is launching a private label, and Nicolle is working closely to balance the line design with major brands and other private label products.