Whirlpool Corporation Highlights Two Women Patent Holders
Whirlpool Corporation is home to a diverse group of innovative thinkers in the areas of design and engineering. Two of those outstanding individuals who are among the leaders in the number of patents at the company are highlighted below.
Michele Wilcox – An S.W.E. Leader
With 30 patents to her name, Michele Wilcox was part of the original group of female engineers at Whirlpool Corporation that petitioned to form a local section in southwest Michigan for the Society of Women Engineers. In 2002, Section H013 was formed and has increased in size ever since 2002. Michele has held a variety of positions within the section that has included being on the planning committee for Whirlpool Corp’s first appearance at the 2002 SWE National Conference. She went on to co-lead Whirlpool’s presence at the 2003 conference.
Michele has been membership chair for the section for 11 years, and has been instrumental in growing the size of the section by fostering an easy renewal process for members. The section now includes over 100 Whirlpool employees. In April, the section received the “SWE WE Local 2020 Membership Retention Award.” This award is presented to the top 20 sections with the highest retention rates.
“It was an honor to receive this award and shows how far our section has come since its start in 2002,” says Wilcox.
Jessica McConnell – Raising the Bar for Color Material Finish
Whirlpool Corporation Director of Advanced Design Jessica McConnell started her career as a graphic designer at Whirlpool. She holds 44 patents.
Have a perspective and don’t be afraid to share it. Take calculated risks. Don’t take the easy road, and don’t be reckless. Challenge your assumptions. Ask yourself WHY. Surround yourself with people better than yourself.”
“Shortly after joining Whirlpool, I decided to transition into a color, finish and material designer role which was, at that time, a new competency within design for Whirlpool,” she says. Within CMF, McConnell has worked on how people experience refrigeration through colored interiors like KitchenAid Platinum, JennAir Obsidian, and most recently, JennAir brand’s Limited Edition Burlesque. Her team has also launched beautiful and lovable stand mixer color finishes like Black Tie, Misty Blue and Queen of Hearts.
McConnell currently leads the Advanced Design group in Global Consumer Design, which consists of Graphic Design, CMF and Industrial Design. “My team works together to create the future vision of brand relevant, sensorial experiences,” says McConnell.
Her advice for young women who want to one day have her role or a similar one is to “Speak up.” She adds: “Have a perspective and don’t be afraid to share it. Take calculated risks. Don’t take the easy road, and don’t be reckless. Challenge your assumptions. Ask yourself WHY. Surround yourself with people better than yourself. Set high expectations for yourself, give yourself critiques, and then one-up yourself next time. Be a supportive, engaged and open-minded team player. Care about others. Put others before yourself. Dream.”
Roberto Campos, senior vice president for the Global Product Organization at Whirlpool Corporation, is proud of the many accomplishments of these women and the other female engineers and designers at the company.
“Our women in engineering and design have accomplished an incredible amount at Whirlpool. When you value and incorporate diverse perspectives into a product, that’s when you create something truly great for the consumer.”