HomeWork features AHAM members’ insights on careers, success, life outside of work, and AHAM membership. This month, we spoke with Brian McWaters, Vice President, Food Preparation at Electrolux North America, and a member of AHAM's Board of Directors.
How did you come to work in the appliance industry?
I joined GE Appliances in 2003 as part of a GE corporate rotational program for commercial leadership development. Prior to that I had worked as a chemical engineer for a few years and done my MBA at the University of Chicago. Appliances turned out to be a great place to blend my technical and business training in a fast-paced, consumer facing industry. I never intended to spend my career in the appliance business, but 20 years later here I am!
How do you stay up to date on industry trends?
I started my appliance career selling to retailers in Houston and that experience has continued to shape how I view the business. Talking with our great retail partners around the country is my favorite way to stay close to the market. I find that listening to them always gives me good insight on trends that might be developing. From there I love to dive into the data with our team and see if we can confirm what we’re hearing anecdotally.
What are your secrets to work-life balance?
I’m not sure I have this one all figured out but what helps me here is keeping perspective on priorities. In recent years I’ve realized that this 20-year appliance career has really gone by fast. I don’t remember a lot of the products or projects I worked on at this point. What seemed so important when I was doing it has already been forgotten, but what has lasted are the relationships I’ve formed along the way. The people from all different parts of the industry (and the world) who I’ve had the privilege of working with; and in the process have become great friends. Focusing on that part in addition to the products and projects is how I bring balance into what I’m doing every day.
How has a diverse and inclusive workforce added to your company’s culture?
Electrolux truly operates as a global company which has helped us to develop a very diverse team. Within the North America executive leadership team alone we have people from five different continents! Diversity in our workforce certainly makes us more effective, but it also creates a unique opportunity for learning. We understand that there are different ways to solve problems and be effective. This understanding motivates us even more to take an inclusive approach, involving and getting the best out of every member of our teams.
Outside of the appliance industry, what would be your dream job?
I’m a ‘wanna-be’ golfer and someone who loves to travel and experience new places. So to me being a pro golfer has always seemed like a dream job. I mean you get to travel the world playing beautiful golf courses. Sounds pretty fun to me!
What’s your favorite benefit of being an AHAM member?
AHAM membership gives us a seat at the table to help shape how consumers will experience our products in the future. At Electrolux, our company purpose is to Shape Living for the Better. It’s a privilege to be part of an industry that does that for so many people every single day.