Robert Nardelli's favorite color is orange, and you need only look at his business card to know why. As President and CEO of the world's largest home improvement retailer, he oversees the operations of a company known as "Big Orange" - The Home Depot.
Looking back on his life, it is not hard to understand how he came to arrive at the top of such a premier company. Growing up in Northeastern Pennsylvania and Kentucky, his leadership qualities evolved early, with achievements ranging from editor of his high school yearbook to captain of his college football team. Years later he would receive the Distinguished Pennsylvanian Award from Gannon University in 1995 and be voted the 1998 Distinguished Alumnus of Western Illinois University. In 1999 Nardelli received an Alumni Fellow from the University of Louisville where he also serves on the Advisory Board for the Graduate School of Business. Both the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce and the Capital District Business Review named him Executive of the Year in 2000, and earlier this year he was honored with the Key to the City of Schenectady.
But education was only part of his success. Hard work contributed much of the rest. Robert Nardelli began his career at General Electric in 1971, advancing through manufacturing management positions in the company's Appliances, Lighting and Transportation Systems business units. In 1988 Nardelli joined Case Corporation as executive vice president and general manager of parts and components. He was later promoted to executive vice president and general manager of Case's construction equipment business.
Nardelli returned to GE in 1991 as president and CEO of GE's Canadian Appliance Manufacturing Co. (CAMCO) and in 1992 was appointed president and CEO of G.E. Transportation Systems in Erie, PA. In 1995 he became a Senior Vice President of GE and the President and CEO of its Power Systems Division. Under his direction, the unit was revitalized and revenues grew to an estimated $20 billion a year, providing new opportunities for the division's employees.
Robert Nardelli was named president, chief executive officer and a member of the Home Depot's Board of Directors on December 5, 2000. But despite his title and responsibilities, he has remained unpretentious. In his new position, he can often be found in the aisles of a Home Depot store chatting with employees about their concerns and ideas, preferring to have them call him "Bob".
He has also not forgotten the importance of providing a helping hand to those who are less fortunate. As a result, he has served as a Chairperson for the Upstate Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and has been active in supporting organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the United Way.
The Siena College School of Business has benefited greatly from Mr. Nardelli's sound advice while serving as an ad hoc member of the Dean's Advisory Council.
Today, Siena College acknowledges the talent, vision and service to the community that Bob Nardelli has demonstrated throughout his life by conferring the degree of Doctor of Letters.