Being a complex organization, Whirlpool Corporation is known for its multitude of home appliances around the world.
But as the Whirlpool team shares, the success of the international manufacturer comes with a universal trait that remains clear: there is no “I” in team, and all successes should be shared. Here, several members of the Whirlpool team share with Profile why collaboration has been paramount in overcoming any challenge, as well as why taxes, treasury, real estate, and enterprise risk management are never kept in the background.
Can you first give me a sense of how the team collaborates at Whirlpool and how it has evolved over the years to bring a better sense of cohesion and sophistication to the company?
Matt Nochowitz: We’re a cohesive and sophisticated group. Whenever we do a project, we have to ensure all stakeholders are aligned on the projects we’re performing. That process crosses all borders and technical disciplines. We have formal controls to make that happen, but it’s really the informal processes that make our jobs easier. Everyone on this team talks on a very regular basis, and there’s not a lot of ego. We’re all focused on creating the best results for the company, and we have the benefit of trusting each other and the fact that we like working together.
Carlos Carvalho: There’s an agility that we observe across the entire group. It’s very pronounced in everything we do. People in all parts of the organization—functionally or geographically—understand how important that is. We were issuing a bond last year, for example, and we bumped into a tax issue in Brazil. This came up during a holiday, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t help us. Very quickly, the team brought out the information we needed to resolve the issue. It’s very pronounced in everything we do.
Camila Fraccaro: We have a shared desire to win and to work together.
Lucianna Raffaini Costa: We don’t work as individuals. We work as a group. Sometimes it’s because something that is going to be better for the company or team focuses on a particular region, but we’re all working toward the same goal.
Meet the Whirlpool Team
VP of Global Tax, Corporate Treasurer
Treasury Director—Latin America
Senior Director, Global Real Estate
Domestic Tax Director
Lucianna Raffaini Costa
Senior Manager, Tax Accounting
Senior Director, Treasury
Senior Manager, International Tax
Senior Director, Treasury
What aspects of Whirlpool’s culture are embodied by the work you do as a team?
Costa: I would say the Whirlpool values are performed every day globally. We do respect each other, and we do listen to each other. We’re all in the spirit of winning. It’s a big part of our day-to-day lives.
Yang Xu: There is a great deal of respect. Matt engages everyone in brainstorming sessions and looks to everyone—no matter their ranking to participate. He once looked at a very junior team member, who was about to say something. We were all excited to talk about our own things and contribute. Matt picked this one person out and said, “You were about to say something. Please share it with your team.” That in itself shows a lot of respect and genuine interest in taking people’s input seriously, no matter what career stage they are. It applies to everyone. The company is very bottom-line driven, but what was once a highly technical, operational function, has become a place where you can provide ideas and generate value for this company. Matt enables us to do that.
Tom Fischer: When we talk about inclusion or use terms like “play to win,” these aren’t just words that sound nice. We are results driven and demand collaboration. There’s a whole reason and foundation behind our leadership model.
Speaking more in terms of detail with tax and treasury, how have processes changed since you’ve begun working together?
Nochowitz: We talk to each other all the time. There’s a seamless level of communication and trust between everyone in the group regardless of where they sit. It doesn’t matter if someone needs something—any time of day, any time of year—we’ll all jump in to help.
Tim Hopke: Over time, the world has become a lot smaller. The communication brings us really close together, and through that there’s increased collaboration. We’re aligned on issues, the volume of transactions increases, and we move at greater speed. That’s really been an evolution.
Fraccaro: Under Matt’s leadership, there’s been a different mind-set and more of a push to think as a group. Everyone has the same objective. There’s no difference between corporate matters and regional matters. We see a shared result. There are no surprises.
Costa: There can be a situation when someone who is leading a project isn’t available. You can always reach someone else who can help out with questions or doubts. The second thing I want to highlight is the sense of urgency and the speed with which we work. I work in Europe, and even with the time zone difference receiving information is unbelievable. I can get answers from anyone on the team in less than an hour.
Fraccaro: I remember several years ago talking about where we wanted this department to go. I saw the evolution, the team structure, putting the talent where it makes sense to create a meaningful career path for everyone in our department. It’s impressive.
What would you say your proudest accomplishments have been in terms of moving Whirlpool forward with the work you do?
Nochowitz: I’m proudest of the team in that I get to work with this group on a daily basis. The other notable point would be the relationship this group has with senior leadership. This group really has the trust of Whirlpool’s leadership. It’s humbling.
Pam DenHaan: We’re really a trusted advisor. They try to talk to us about being one finance not only at a US or corporate level, but also with the whole group.
Carvalho: If you go back several years in the treasury group, we were mostly perceived as an excellent operational shop. You look at it now, and we’ve had the opportunity to be involved in hundreds of millions of dollars of bottom-line results.
Brenda Engen: I’m proud of the processes we’ve put in place around tax provisions and tax compliance, as well as the controls we put in to make sure we meet quarterly and yearly marks. We have a lot of technical projects in our department. Everything has to be documented and reported correctly. We’ve been told by our auditors that we’re best in class, and I really take a lot of pride in that.
Nochowitz: This group brings a tremendous technical discipline to the table, but most importantly is an open-minded approach to solving problems. Being technical is the price of admission.
What’s one surprising thing that people wouldn’t assume would be part of your role at Whirlpool?
Nochowitz: In most companies, taxes, treasury, real estate, and enterprise risk management are kept in the background. For whatever reason, that’s not true here at all. We are an important part in the strategic decision-making process.
Carvalho: Someone from another area or company would be surprised to know how much we have to know about each other’s functions to do our job well. You have to know more than what an average person would know to do well.
Fraccaro: The autonomy we have here to decide major things. I don’t think this is a normal side of work, but we have really big autonomy to decide things.
Engen: I think the reason tax, treasury, and everything that rolls up under that umbrella is as successful as it is because of what Matt built since he’s been here. It’s down to the way he’s taken on his role and taken this to the company. We’re all respected because of what he’s done since he arrived. It’s a credit to him that we get to do all the cool things that we do today.
Matt is an insightful leader with great business sense and unwavering focus. His ability to quickly recognize emerging trends and execute transformative deals is at the core of a highly productive partnership between Whirlpool and Mizuho. It is a great pleasure to work with someone of his caliber and character.