How a career at Lowe’s led to stability for one military spouse

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Kristie Wooddell (Courtesy photos)

Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Lowe's committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. Lowe's is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.

Kristie Wooddell exemplifies the best qualities of a military spouse: She's driven, adaptable, and creative. After giving up her own profession to support her husband's military career, she sought other avenues to job success. Her path has culminated in a thriving career at Lowe's.

When her husband decided to join the Army, Wooddell worked as a restaurant manager. As she put it, he was "on the older side" when he joined, which meant she had already put down roots in her field. As many military families must, they had a decision to make. In order to best support their two young children, Wooddell decided to focus on her family while she decided what came next.

She spent five years working on her bachelor's degree while her family moved from duty station to duty station. "I got to be a stay-at-home mom while going to school online," she said. "In some ways, it was a nice break." When she was ready to reenter the workforce, Wooddell found herself unable to find a job in her career field. She was frustrated but forged ahead, landing a job with the Census Bureau in Hawaii. But another move put her in the same position once again. "I told my husband that I would spend three months trying to get a job in my field of human services," she said, "and after that, I would just apply for any job I could find."

The Wooddells had recently moved to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and they ended up shopping at Lowe's for many of their household needs. "The person we rented our house from kept telling us, 'You need to go to Lowe's. They have a 10 percent military discount,'" she said. Wooddell liked what she saw, and after her initial three-month job search was up, Lowe's was one of the first places she applied.

She was hired as a part-time phone operator. "It was not necessarily my first choice of jobs," she said, "but it was an opportunity when I was not getting a lot of opportunities otherwise." This prospect turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

"Right away, I wanted to know about every aspect of the business, from running the power equipment to learning about mixers, so that I could use those skills to market myself," she said. This knowledge helped propel Wooddell into her next job as head cashier. After her initial move, she rose rapidly within the company, working as department manager of customer service, department manager of administration, and assistant store manager. In only a few short years, she gained a wealth of experience and had grown into a well-rounded employee.

As with any military career, Wooddell's husband received orders to move yet again. But for Wooddell herself, this move would be different. "The best thing about Lowe's is that they are everywhere," she said. For once, Wooddell had a portable career that she could bring as her family relocated.

"I transferred to a Lowe's in the D.C. area, where I continued working as an assistant store manager," she said. "But I really wanted to work in human resources." She kept searching within the company, and finally landed a position as an HR manager.

Not only was Wooddell able to move with her career intact, but her new role allowed her to take one more step to achieve a position she had long been striving for: area human resources business partner. It was a great fit. "This job melds together my varied experiences with Lowe's and my degree in human services," she said.

In seven years with Lowe's, Wooddell was steadily promoted and gained valuable experience. However, her path was not without challenges. Many military families face long separations that can affect a spouse's job, and Wooddell's was one of them. When her husband left on a long deployment, she struggled with how she would maintain her career while also being the sole parent in the house. Luckily, her father-in-law offered to move in to help provide childcare. "Having a strong support system in place allowed me to continue working while also caring for my family," she said.

For Wooddell, a supportive employer has been key to balancing career and family. "With Lowe's, there's never a question of whether I will miss a day of work when my husband deploys," she explained. "Management understands what is the priority." As a military spouse, this level of support is invaluable and provides stability during an otherwise chaotic time.

As for military spouses trying to balance their partner's military careers with their own, Wooddell offered some sound advice. "Find something you love to do but that will transfer easily," she said. Not having to worry about relicensing with each move has made transitioning much more seamless. Working for a nationwide company like Lowe's provides a built-in career network that employees can call on when they must relocate. For military spouses, this greatly reduces the stress of military relocation.

Wooddell never imagined herself working for Lowe's. But when the military changed the direction of her life, she was quick to adapt and rebrand herself in order to keep working and providing for her family. Finding a military-friendly, nationwide company allows her to support her husband's service while continuing to grow her career.

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