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Meet Karen Reinhardt: Cybersecurity Engineer at The Home Depot

We asked Karen Reinhardt, Principal Engineer in Cybersecurity - PKI/Encryption, a few questions about her role at The Home Depot, her experience as an engineer and her career path.
Meet Karen Reinhardt: Cybersecurity Engineer at The Home Depot - The Home Depot
cybersecurity engineering at the home depot - the home depot
Karen Reinhardt, Cybersecurity Engineer

How did your career start at The Home Depot?

In 2007, The Home Depot was one of my first accounts as a consultant for another company, and where I cut my teeth on large enterprise PKI architecture and policy. Consulting for The Home Depot helped me become the cybersecurity professional that I am today. In 2020, when I decided to find something more stable than contractor work during the onset of the pandemic, The Home Depot was one of the first places that I looked. I consider the rest kismet.

Tell us about the roles you have held at The Home Depot and what led you to your current role.

I’m lucky because the skills I have gained over the years allowed me to start as a Principal Engineer at The Home Depot, and I’ve been the Cybersecurity Principal Engineer of encryption and PKI for two years now. I love that the skills that I first really used from my contractor work with The Home Depot are the skills that have propelled me to my current position.

What excites or inspires you about your current role and working in cybersecurity?

Wow, so much. I love the people I work with. They both support me and challenge me to do my best. The technical environment here also gives me the chance to use all the skills I have gathered to date and continuously pushes me to learn more. I am continuously surprised by the variety of technology that we have here at The Home Depot.

Having a harmonious balance between work and personal life is more important than ever. How do you create your work-life balance at The Home Depot?

That is not one of my strengths, so I find the culture here at The Home Depot has helped me to have a more reasonable work-life balance. People here care about me as a person and not just as a performer on the job, and I find that helps me to not over focus on my career and has made me more efficient at work and a more well-rounded individual overall.

Tell us what motivated you to become a cybersecurity professional and what is your background prior to starting with The Home Depot?

Geez, I have been at this for almost 30 years and at times, I sometimes feel like the cybersecurity Forrest Gump in that so much of my career has come down to luck and being in the right place at the right time. I’m also very fortunate that I found a career that fits me well since I was a bit of a juvenile delinquent, and I can use my ability to think nefariously for good. My first big IT gig was the Windows95 pilot deployment at Union Carbide where I was quickly promoted to Senior Admin and put in charge of server deployment. From there I went on to become a founding member of Qwest/CentryLink’s security team around 2000. While I have also held roles at Bank of America, Verifone, and Entrust, my time at RSA was the most impactful on my growth, as I was able to consult for many different industries and become a leader in PKI. While at RSA, I helped with breach situations which changed my views of security and identity, and I’m glad to be able to bring that experience to The Home Depot.

Women make up around 24% of the cybersecurity workforce. How can the industry improve on that number?

I think that women already in the cybersecurity industry are the key. Joining a predominantly male field can be daunting, so it is up to us woman to talk about where we work and our experiences so that we can make all sorts of women feel welcome. Rather than just asking our male allies to help, we need to be getting out there and encouraging the younger women and making them feel welcome. It is a hard field, helping hands are needed to be successful, and it starts with us.

A lot of people believe that developing your career means changing companies. What has enabled you to develop/advance your career in cyber at The Home Depot?

Home Depot is an amazing place to grow a career. In the two years that I have been with The Home Depot, I’ve been able to grow both technically and as a leader. As I grow, I realize that there is even more room to move up and develop. From the leadership training which is open to me, my views are evolving, and I see lots of opportunity. The coolest part is that I am encouraged to be myself and that makes me want to be my best self for The Home Depot and my family. There are so many opportunities here, it really is up to me to decide which path is best for me and The Home Depot.

How would you describe what working in cybersecurity is like at The Home Depot?

The Home Depot’s Cybersecurity leadership team really cares about making all of us more secure, from associates to vendors, partners and, most importantly, our customers. At The Home Depot, I am part of a team and I have found that with the right chemistry, teams can produce more than the individuals could by themselves, with none of us being expected to be a superhero. I am lucky that most of my teams here at The Home Depot are stronger than the sum of their parts. For all the hectic times, knowing I can be there for my team and that they are there for me makes a significant difference in this challenging field.

What tips do you have for jobseekers looking to get into cybersecurity at The Home Depot?

First, do your best. Even if you do not get it the first time, we value dedication. Figure out where your gaps are or were, address them, and try again. The hiring process is interactive, and I was able to adjust as I went through it by listening to the advice of those interviewing me and the recruiter. I guess in a lot of ways, knowing what you are good at and what you want to be good at are the key. Further, showing that you are good at solving challenging situations and working with a team are imperative. Try to show your best self but be honest, a lot of us have been doing this for a while, we know how hard it can be, just do your best and keep using every experience to improve yourself.

Is The Home Depot hiring technology talent today? If so, how should I apply?

Yes, we have lots of openings. The best approach is to check out the open roles on careers.homedepot.com/cybersecurity. If you see something that interests you, submit your resume, but do not stop there. Build your network on LinkedIn, connect with people who work at The Home Depot, get to know anyone already in your network or friends of friends. Finding a connection who is here could make a difference. Use any connections you have, submit your resume, and be sure to mention SWE if you choose to apply!

Karen Reinhardt is partnered with SWE’s 2022 Diversity Drivers. 

cybersecurity engineering at the home depot - the home depot

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