At home improvement retailer Lowe’s Cos. Inc., Cedric Coco acts as the thread binding all of the businesses functions together.
After joining the company in 2008, Coco, the senior vice president of learning and organizational effectiveness, quickly moved Lowe’s learning and development function closer to its internal performance improvement consulting team and to the business.
“I consider myself the integrator because my main function is to deliver one single, unified, holistic people strategy for the company,” Coco said. “I look at Lowe’s as an ecosystem — it’s full of people, processes and tools. When you look at everything from this level, you have an integrated perspective that allows you to play at the right level and have the right people.”
Coco’s roots reside outside of learning. He started in operations at General Electric Co. and later moved to KLA-Tencor Corp. and Microsoft before becoming the CLO at Lowe’s.
“Because I have a grounded financial business understanding, it affords me the opportunity to have that conversation with business leaders,” Coco said. “If business leaders realize you have a personal interest in understanding their business and comprehend it, they’re more apt to share various insights with you.”
His ability to speak the language of business helped him as a learning leader and with other HR duties. Coco is also responsible for talent acquisition, talent management, diversity and inclusion, learning and development, organizational change and effectiveness, and human analytics research for Lowe’s.
And while Coco delegates to a roster of direct reports — including the chief learning officer, head of performance management, head of talent acquisition and head of diversity and inclusion — he personally co-authors talent strategies to help source and develop talent and support employees as they manage their performance.
“It’s all a systems-thinking model,” Coco said. “We look at where each division is heading strategically and what it feels its core competencies and capabilities have to be. We look at that compared to current capabilities to figure out any gaps and then help close those gaps. Through talent acquisition strategies, performance management strategies and learning and development strategies, we grow the capabilities of the workforce so it can meet the needs of the organization.”
To accomplish this, Coco has one-on-one meetings with the C-suite. He also has meetings with each division’s staff and Lowe’s board of directors. When presenting at the company’s annual board talent review or annual diversity and inclusion of culture review, Coco goes through its talent profile and discusses what his team is doing holistically to develop the workforce; what data or analytics they’d used to identify gaps in the leadership team; what they’re doing to close the gaps as well as fresh succession management strategies.
Coco also meets with general leaders biweekly, monthly or quarterly to discuss different people strategies within the function. He spends time daily with business leaders to better understand where they’re heading and looks at the function’s financials, strategies and what it’s trying to deploy down the road.
“I ask questions around the strategy to see how well it’s thought out and give them ideas and advice on things they have to explore further. There are many arms to this, but I’m integrating it all,” Coco said.