It’s not every day that a temporary position leads to a successful and fulfilling sixteen-year career, but that’s exactly what happened for Foot Locker’s Dan Whinnie.
Whinnie was working for a different retailer in store operations and management when he realized he was interested in roles that had profit and loss responsibility. He found his chance in a six-month temporary financial analyst position for an IT project with the famed athletic apparel company. The move paid off. Today, Whinnie attributes his successful climb up the ranks both to his own hard work and to a company that values building up its team members.
“I’m probably one of the poster children for Foot Locker of promoting from within and being able to grow your career,” says Whinnie, who is currently vice president of finance, technology, and supply chain. “Now I’m head of that department, and more, where I started sixteen years ago as a temporary financial analyst. It’s something I’m proud of from a career perspective.”
Whinnie’s main responsibilities today include budgeting, forecasting, analysis, and accounting within the function he leads. In addition, he also negotiates most of the strategic technology contracts, as well as managing all of the dollars the organization spends in those functions. He also communicates on a regular basis from a forecasting and dollars perspective with the CFOs of Foot Locker’s various divisions, such as Kids Foot Locker and Champs Sports. Most importantly, his role provides a valuable bridge between finance and technology.
“I believe I’ve gotten to where I have because of my collaborating abilities both inside my groups as well as outside. I also like to lead by example.”
“With the unique nature of technology costs, my group is a somewhat self-contained finance unit within technology who reports to the CIO,” he says. “While I’m a financial professional, I’m a technical geek at heart. Being able to play an integral part in the technologies, and now with some of my supply chain and digital marketing responsibilities, means my role is constantly changing and that change makes it exciting. I get to do what I’ve been schooled to do but also play a part in the technical side of things.”
Whinnie is proud of his many accomplishments at Foot Locker, and one recent instance stands out in particular. He noted that, like so many organizations, Foot Locker had to pivot when COVID-19 hit and figure out how to protect its financial assets.
“I ended up playing a big role in protecting our cash by structuring a lot of different financial deals that allowed us to keep moving ahead on projects,” he says. “I was able to work with our partners to be creative on how we think about things differently to manage our technology financials that we may not have considered in the past. By using relationships I’ve cultivated over the years with many of our partners, we found other ways to do things and keep our business moving through this challenging time. By the nature of the amount of dollars we spend in tech and supply chain that was one of the things I helped the company maneuver through, too.”
He’s also proud of what he’s been able to accomplish since Foot Locker gained its new chief information officer, Pawan Verma, in 2015. Whinnie credits Verma with injecting new energy in the company’s technical capabilities, which has helped him in his own role.
“While I’m a financial professional, I’m a technical geek at heart.”
“I put in just countless strategic deals over the last five years with strategic tech vendors and setting them up on a global level,” he says. “That piece makes me proud personally and professionally to be able to contribute to allowing us to move forward with all these new technologies that help us stay relevant with our consumers.”
As for his leadership style, Whinnie described himself as collaborative and the antithesis of a micromanager. He also believes in forging strong relationships with vendors. Today, Whinnie has a total of fifty-five people reporting to him, which includes supply chain team members and technology and digital marketing finance team members.
“I believe I’ve gotten to where I have because of my collaborating abilities both inside my groups as well as outside,” he says. “I also like to lead by example. I’m not one to shy away from digging into the details and doing a lot of what I consider the “dirty work” myself. So, a lot of times, I’ll be right in the trenches alongside my team. I would never ask anybody to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.”
The VP praises the Foot Locker corporate team for providing a positive environment for team members and looks forward to continued growth with the organization.
“We’re still going through our transformation, and I think things are going to continue to morph,” Whinnie says. “We’re starting to spend some of our dollars on corporate productivity, things that we put in play to try to help our internal customers be more efficient in addition to our continued focus on improving our external customer experience. Those are some of the things that are coming up and honestly I just want to continue to grow this role and continue to make a difference in our business.”