Homework features AHAM members’ insights on careers, success, life outside of work, and AHAM membership. This month, we spoke with Paulo da Silva, senior director, laundry merchandising, for Whirlpool Corporation. Paulo also serves as Chair of AHAM’s Major Appliance Business Data Councils.
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Name three goals (personal or professional) you are pursuing in 2018.
1. Build a new capability within Whirlpool that will require us to attract talent from other companies and industries, develop and execute a change management program, and gain enough traction to start building a portfolio of success stories.
2. Hardwire the processes, tools and management system I have developed together with my team over my tenure in my current role to establish a foundation that can be built upon in the coming years by my successors and myself.
3. On a personal front, my reading challenge this year is to read 52 books. Last year, I read 22, so this goal is aspirational to say the least. I'm a bit behind, but with vacation coming soon I expect to pick up the pace and get fairly close to my target.
How do you jumpstart your morning?
I usually wake up at 5 a.m., fill up my coffee mug and head down to my basement to exercise. I warm up either on the treadmill or rowing, and then do weight training for 45 minutes to an hour. By 6 a.m. I'm taking my shower and getting ready to go to work. My kids Isabel (5) and Victor (2) are early risers, so by the time I'm out of the shower they are awake. I spend a few precious minutes with them and head to work, energized and ready to tackle anything.
Predict an innovation that will revolutionize the next generation.
I recently read the book “Designing Reality” by Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld and Neil Gershenfeld, which made a case for what they call the third digital revolution. The authors say that computerized fabrication taking place in a large, decentralized and expanding network of “fab labs,” which integrate additive (e.g. 3-D printing), subtractive (e.g. milling/CNC) and embedded computing will revolutionize not only companies' supply chain structures, but also nations' sources of wealth. I find the concept extremely intriguing and with far-reaching implications.
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
When deciding what opportunity to pursue next, look for four things:
• A great leader from whom you can learn.
• A strong team of talented individuals who will inspire you to be at the top of your game.
• A challenge that is meaningful enough to be in the agenda of senior leadership.
• A function, topic or space that offers opportunities for you to expand your functional knowledge.
The opportunities that will drive the best development and career progression will likely be the ones that check all four boxes.
What home appliance can you not live without?
My KitchenAid Pour Over Coffee Brewer gives me the energy to work out in the morning when I would rather stay in bed for another hour, and also the energy to burn the midnight oil from time to time when things at work are even more hectic than usual. Without it I would be (even more) out of shape and not as effective in my role at Whirlpool.
What do you gain from your involvement with AHAM?
I cherish the opportunity to interact and learn from some of the best minds in the business, and play a role in shaping the future of our industry.
What is your best advice you have for somebody who wants to succeed in the home appliance industry?
I would start by understanding shoppers, their needs and path to purchase. Dedicate a significant amount of time to market visits where you can interact with shoppers and learn from sales associates. Also, invest time understanding the contract side of the business: who are the decision makers? What is most important to them? Recognize that, ultimately, the best innovations often come from previously unidentified or poorly articulated needs.