“We’re all important”

Forty-five minutes had been scheduled, and he respected them as he answered all of the questions of the journalists on the International Media Tour. Jeff Fettig is sure that what is fundamental to Whirlpool’s growth is innovation. jeff fettigThis is also what Nancy Tennant Snyder says in her book Unleashing Innovation. The chairman of Whirlpool picks up the book and gives it to Samidha, a young Indian journalist to his right. “Best wishes,” is what he chooses for the dedication. The scene is spontaneous, but clearly symbolic. One of the most powerful managers on the planet, of one of the most important multinationals hands over the sign of success to a young woman from an emerging country, that is becoming increasingly important to Whirlpool.

Deep, blue eyes, and the hint of a smile that lasts only a moment. He misses none of what happens in the Executive Dining Room. He observes and listens carefully. It is important for him to have so many journalists from every part of the world. From his behavior, it is clear he understands that the questions are one of the best indicators of how his company is perceived.

Jeff Fettig has been part of the corporation’s top management since 2004. It was not easy to take the place of David Witwam, who had been the chairman for seventeen years, and who went down in history as the man who began a revolution in the company. Then, there was a serious economic crisis, with the cost of raw materials that increased by double figures. However, Fettig demonstrated a strong vision of the future, by encouraging the internationalization of Whirlpool, which proved to be a winning choice. Many of the questions came from journalists from emerging countries. The chairman said he was very satisfied with how the situation is going in India and Brazil. The greater concern, however, is China, where the potential is enormous, but where only a part of the market has been conquered so far.

When he hears Varese mentioned, his face brightens up, because be lived, for some time, in Luvinate, at a stone’s throw from the golf course, which is one of his loves. “Innovation concerns all our employees, whether they are manual workers, involved in production, like those in Cassinetta, office workers or managers in Comerio. We give importance to everyone’s ideas and suggestions, whether they come to us by formal or by informal means.” Against the guiding light of Jeff Fettig’s acts, it makes little difference what the social class or status of the employee is. They can all be important.


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