Only a few Whirlpool employees had passports in the mid-1980s, something that changed under CEO Dave Whitwam’s leadership. If Jack Sparks laid the foundation for the company’s expansion, then Whitwam set the course, even as global events such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Tiananmen Square protests and 9/11 shifted public perceptions.
Whitwam saw that Whirlpool could not survive if it remained only a U.S.-based organization. His globalization strategy was simple: to find a place for Whirlpool appliances in Every Home… Everywhere. His vision for the future also included turning inward, creating a people-focused culture that would invest in talent, and giving the organization its first real mission statement.