5 questions with Whirlpool’s Danielle Brown

This trailblazing CIO shares the three keys to her success and why great leaders aren’t afraid to let go of control.

Danielle Brown, SVP and CIO, Whirlpool Corporation
Danielle Brown, SVP and CIO, Whirlpool Corporation

As SVP and CIO of Whirlpool Corporation’s Global Information Systems, Danielle Brown blends executive leadership, business savvy, and deep knowledge of emerging technology to deliver results. Those are some of the more obvious keys to her effectiveness as a collaborative and decisive leader and technologist. But Dani also attributes her success to something else: a willingness to take on the hard things. I call it boldness; she calls it a mindset that has propelled her since the early days.

As a college student, Dani was one of only two African-American women enrolled in the computer science program. She still frequently finds herself as one of the onlys or the very fews on leadership teams and in executive boardrooms. But she knows there’s tremendous value in what she brings to the table—her point of view, her experiences, her authenticity. As a result, she says, whenever she faces a challenge or an opportunity, instead of thinking, “Why shouldn’t I?” she thinks, “Why not?”

When I spoke with Dani for the CIO Whisperers podcast, she shared how her personal and professional experiences have shaped her approach to leadership, learning, and teaching. She also talked about what she’s doing to make sure her IT organization has the voice, capabilities, and skill set to advance Whirlpool’s strategic imperatives, all of which hinge on innovative technology and digital services. After the show wrapped, we spent a few more minutes drilling down into some of Dani’s keys to successful leadership. What follows is that off-air conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity.

Dan Roberts: You are so effective at communicating the “art of the possible” to people. With the pandemic, we lost a lot of the opportunities for face-to-face interactions. How have you compensated for that?

Dani Brown: Without question, I look forward to getting back to face-to-face interactions, because some of what we miss by not being in person are the nuances of conversation and making that genuine personal connection face to face. I’ve compensated by “enjoying” a lot of screen time with my team.

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