What does it take to lead a $10 BILLION engineering organization, and how do you get there? That’s an 11-figure business, for those counting. What are the keys to career growth for engineering leaders?
Why are you not getting a seat at the table? What’s keeping you from being the obvious next choice for promotion?
In this episode, Vice President and Global Platform Leader at Whirlpool Corporation, Casey Tubman, shares his incredible career growth from engineering plastic parts for Case International Harvester, to leading the largest international engineering team at Whirlpool.
If you have questions about
- your career path,
- getting your MBA,
- how to plan and execute your first 90 days in a new role,
- or the most important actions you can take to earn a seat at the table for promotion…
you are going to get massive value from this episode.
Casey holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and his Executive MBA from Mendoza college of business at Notre Dame. We talk in depth about his unique career path and growth mindset from IC to VP.
As you move up, your shadow gets longer. Casey takes that leadership responsibility seriously.
So press play and let’s chat… this is one table you’re already invited to!
The Happy Engineer Podcast
WATCH EPISODE 050: HOW TO GET A SEAT AT THE BILLION $$ TABLE WITH CASEY TUBMAN
LISTEN TO EPISODE 050: HOW TO GET A SEAT AT THE BILLION $$ TABLE INTERVIEW WITH ZACH’S DEBRIEF
HOW TO GET A SEAT AT THE BILLION $$ TABLE – CAREER GROWTH TIPS FOR ENGINEERING LEADERS
Let’s talk about some of the impact of this conversation with Casey Tubman and how you can apply it and take action in your own career.
But first, I want to go back and tell you a little story about some of my days working with Casey at Whirlpool corporation.
When I landed my first senior manager of engineering position, Casey was the vice-president and general manager of the North America region laundry business unit. He led the single largest category in the single largest region of the world.
I, on the other hand, was a complete rookie at my senior manager position I had just landed within the dryer category.
Find your Mentor and your Mentees
Casey was the kind of leader who consistently would make time for me even when he had no reason or need to do that. If you are not that senior level, I want to make mention of how powerful those moments can be for the young up-and-comers.
I know you’re busy. I know you’ve got a lot of priorities and things you’re balancing, but never underestimate what being available for some of those leaders under you and around you can mean.
And I remember right after landing that senior manager of engineering position, getting with Casey for maybe a 30 minute mentorship meeting. He did exactly what he described in this conversation. He told me “Zach, listen, it’s not just about the engineering; It’s not just about the technical solutions; You need to think about the customer.”
And then he told me “who”… Who do I need to spend more time with, who do I need to connect with to really create a broader understanding of what’s going on cross-functionally.
So if you’re not in Casey’s shoes, but you’re in mine, you’re the new leader. You’re the up and comer. You’re the person who’s seeking to make an impact in a new position. I want to encourage you to reach out and connect with those WHO’s that can help you get to the next level that can help you expand your thinking.
Who are those people above you? One, two, even maybe three levels above have the courage to reach out and ask for that support. So often they’re just like Casey, they want to help you, especially if you are proving yourself and continuing to really demonstrate that you have a big vision and you have a high level of performance.
Ask yourself WHO…?
I want to share with you one of the most important who’s that didn’t come up in this conversation. The actual who that’s going to make the biggest difference in you reaching that next goal is yourself. You are the biggest who that needs to weigh in and get involved in this problem of you getting to the next level.
You are the biggest bottleneck in your own career. You are the biggest problem.
Leading the enterprise, leading leaders, leading you
Let’s talk about a leadership model that shows up in most HR decks and has been talked about again and again, and that is, as you develop as a leader, we start with the concept of leading ourselves. Leading self.
Then we move on and talk about leading others. That first manager position. Then you lead leaders, and that’s when you move into the director positions. You are setting some of the strategy, you’re getting a bigger picture and you’re actually helping other leaders to develop their skills, that leading leaders position.
And then at the top of this is leading the enterprise. Leading the business, leading from the top, being an executive. What changes when you’re in that position?
Casey talked about how now 99% of the work is getting done by everyone else. And you’re only doing 1% and it’s all about the people. It’s all about making sure that they’re working on the right priorities, setting those standards, really driving the team.
It starts with leading yourself
Well, here’s what everyone forgets. In order for you to be successful at leading others, you must also reach the next level of leading yourself. I want you to think of leading self as the foundation, it’s the bottom layer.
So if you’re going to add on and pile on to that leading others, you need to strengthen the foundation of leading self, even beyond what it took to be successful on your own.
When you move to leading leaders and stacking that on top of this pyramid, the strength of that foundation of leading self must increase again.
So you don’t ever stop learning and developing within yourself.
At every level you go back to leading self and there are breakthroughs and mindsets and tool sets and skill sets that you must develop within yourself to continue to lead at those next levels.
It’s not just about developing the skills of leading others or leading leaders or leading the enterprise. It’s also leveling up your skills of leading yourself. And this is why top, top performers in every area of life, whether it’s sports, music, or engineering, have coaches have people right there beside them helping them to accelerate and maximize leading themselves, because you’ve got enough on your plate to learn how to lead others or lead leaders or lead the enterprise.
You know, what happens when you forget to level up on yourself is then that pyramid collapses, that foundation cracks under the weight of the stress and the pressure and all of the expectations that come with you performing at those next levels. And this is that Peter principle people talk about, you’ve been promoted into your level of incompetence.
This is when your responsibilities at work and the growth that you have in your career exceeds the growth that you have within yourself.
So what’s keeping you from the goal? YOU ARE.
Yeah, there might be other things too, but you are, you are the bottleneck in your own career.
And I want to challenge you with that and encourage you to take action on leading.
Get in Touch
This is exactly what we do at OACO. If you want to chat, book a call, reach out to me directly. But if it’s not us get help from someone.
Don’t rely on HR to close those gaps for you, because here’s the thing.When you become that manager, they’re going to provide training for you about how to be. They’re focused, always on the top level of the pyramid and you are responsible for making sure that you strengthen that foundation of your growth at the same time. And ideally even before you need it, I hope this helps take action.
Make sure that you are focused on your own growth and development. And after you’ve taken care of yourself, now we can move on to those other whos and really lean into expanding our net.
Go take action. Remember to get out of your comfort zone, crush, comfort. That comfort zone is not helping you get what you want out of your life and career. Build courage, strengthen courage. Create courage every single day, by doing something that scares you. Find that edge of the comfort zone. Take action.
It’s okay if you fail because failure is a part of the journey.
There isn’t success and failure, there’s success and learning.
And in fact, it’s not even success and learning at the end. It’s learning and learning.
Have a growth mindset.
Have fun in the process.
And until next time.
Let’s do this.
ABOUT CASEY TUBMAN
Casey Tubman is an experienced Vice President and General Manager of large business units with a demonstrated history of profit maximization in a branded consumer goods industry. He is currently Vice President and Global Platform Leader for Vertical Axis Laundry at Whirlpool Corporation, the company’s largest category worldwide. A veteran of the appliance industry and a graduate of both the college of engineering, University of Michigan and the Mendoza college of business, University of Notre Dame holding a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an Executive MBA.
Leading into 2020, Casey took on the responsibility of Vice President of Product Marketing for Whirlpool’s ~3B(euro) Europe, Middle East, and Africa region covering 30+ markets across 20+ major domestic appliance categories. Casey had closed out 2019 as the VP and General Manager of the ~$3B North America Laundry business unit for Whirlpool Corporation. As GM, Casey was responsible for category management and managing the P&L including all stages from early development of innovation through to production and including the trade marketing and sales of the products. Casey started at Whirlpool as a contract engineer and has held several positions within engineering as well as Brand, Product Development, Sales, Merchandising and general management of business units. Casey was previously the GM of the Dishwasher category as well as OEM, Trans Regional, & IKEA Sales.
Casey is dedicated to helping others both personally through community service and volunteerism as well as professionally via being an ally, coaching, and mentoring. Casey currently serves others in need locally through working alongside and serving residents of the homeless shelters as well as by taking his team out for service days across the community such as the annual “rake a difference” for seniors. Casey has and continues to actively serve on multiple community boards including the AYSO (youth soccer) and United Way of SW Michigan board, Executive committee, and as chair of the Impact committee. He is an active member in his Church, co-chairing the Generosity (finance) and Missions committees. Most recently, Casey and his daughter, Caroline (HS Sophomore), have founded the InterAct4DR initiative helping to send 125 Dominican Republic sugar cane batey youth to school for the 2019-20 school year and have continued to do so yearly since that time.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Casey Tubman on LinkedIn
- Do you need help getting a seat at the table? Book a FREE Career Clarity Call now!
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:
Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.
[00:00:00] Zach White: Casey welcome to the happy engineer podcast. It’s amazing to see again, it’s been several years since our last face-to-face conversation and can’t thank you enough for making time to be on the show today.
[00:00:11] Casey Tubman: Happy to be here, Zach, and I appreciate the offer. It’s going to be an interesting conversation.
Expand to Read Full Transcript
[00:00:17] Zach White: in the past, I was going to say, I’ve never had a conversation with you that wasn’t interesting, at least in some capacity. So it’s appropriate. I think, to set the stage really quickly about what you’re doing today, just give us a little understanding in terms of people and product, what it is that you’re up to.
[00:00:34] so I’m back on us soil, but I’m, I’m in a global job.
[00:00:38] Casey Tubman: So, my team is around the world now. I have responsibility for, vertical access, or, top load laundry. As most people call it, all dryers, to go with it and then commercial. And that is basically from the planning stages through to the product development stage and into manufacturing.
[00:00:56] it’s now titled vice president of engineering, or a global platform. And that’s not easy to say. When you start
[00:01:05] Zach White: vice president global platform leader, vertical axis laundry, it is a mouthful KC. So can you, and maybe you don’t have the numbers. Perfect. But within a range of tolerance, like how many products annually are we talking about that are in your scope right now?
[00:01:22] Volume, you mean volume,
[00:01:23] Casey Tubman: volume? Oh, that’s a great question. the volume has to be 15 million. Maybe
[00:01:32] Zach White: if I asked you yet, you could be off plus or minus a couple of million and it’s still a huge, it’s still
[00:01:37] Casey Tubman: a big number. Yes. Yeah, Call it. Call it eight to 10 billion.
[00:01:41] Zach White: Oh, that’s awesome. And, and by far and away the largest category in Whirlpool corporation, and I have a fond memory because my last engineering leadership role was in what is now your organization. So that’s tremendous.
[00:01:56] Casey Tubman: You’d left a little too early. I wasn’t
[00:01:58] Zach White: back yet. Well, yeah, maybe, maybe I need to reconsider.
[00:02:01] Are you taking applications, Casey? I don’t know if this coaching thing doesn’t work out. Casey’s always hiring. So anybody listening to this, if you’re wanting to lead laundry products for what bull or pre-chat to case numbers. So, all right, well, let’s go back though. Here you are leading the largest engineering organization within Whirlpool Corp globally.
[00:02:21] if we back up the track, what was your first engineering gig? Take us all the way back to the beginning.
[00:02:29] Casey Tubman: So when I graduated college, I was, trying to get a job in Chrysler, in cars doing, a leadership rotation.
[00:02:38] Let’s call it every engineer coming out of school looks for is, is there a leadership rotation? maybe not all of them, but a lot of them. And of course I was waiting on that answer and case corporation or case international harvester, as many people knew them. Came along and said, well, we have a job for you here it is.
[00:02:55] and being the person I was, and the family I came from is when you graduated college, you made sure you had a job that you were going to. If one was thinking about you, that didn’t count, you had to go to the one that offered you a job. So I took a role with case international harvester in Chicago.
[00:03:10] I was a design engineer basically, and I was redesigning or I was designing, sorry. the mid-sized tractors, they were produced in Doncaster, England. they were designed in Chicago. and then I was doing. Rotational molding plastics for gas tanks. I was designing fuel tanks. So I learned all about rotational molding and other plastics types, injection, and others.
[00:03:31] and then I was doing chassis work around battery box, compartments, the stairs up into the cab and things like that. so a little bit of metal work as well. great. First job. Great first experience. and, uh, spend time going over to England and actually go into the fact that. I mean with the engineers there and things of that nature.
[00:03:51] So, When you took that first role, I’ve heard two different stories from engineers who I coached some that first job really doubled down on their passion for engineering is like, I love this.
[00:04:01] Zach White: This is amazing. I want more of this. And others had that initial reaction of like, this is interesting, but I’m not sure if this is how I want to spend the rest of my career or not. And they, spend the next decade trying to figure that out. What category are you in? If you go back to that first job really ignite for you, you loved it or uncertainty
[00:04:21] Casey Tubman: it, uh, it ignited it.
[00:04:22] No, there was no uncertainty. I was doing CAD drafting in high school. Actually. I had some state awards. I remember, uh, in drafting by hand. And then I moved to CAD drafting in college. And so coming out, I was doing not only my own design work from an engineering standpoint, I was doing my own drafting and doing some tests for requests and things with the lab.
[00:04:42] And then the manufacturing guys, I was all in and I loved it and I still do today. so that type of thing, just made it solid that I was going to do engineering for a while. And as you know, I did it for nine or 10 years before I changed over.
[00:04:56] Zach White: So what was the impetus to head over to.
[00:05:00] I actually left case international, which was again, I said it was in Chicago.
[00:05:04] I couldn’t afford to live where I actually worked was the. I made $37,500 living in Chicago, super hard at the time. I lived with actually other people, because I couldn’t afford my own place. and I was coming back to Michigan quite a bit where my family is, uh, located up towards grand rapids.
[00:05:24] Casey Tubman: And so I watched people, how they were doing and what things were happening. I said, this isn’t going to work. So I made a job change back to a, I went to Steelcase, actually in grand rapids. if you’re familiar with the pyramid, I just drove by it yesterday with my family. And I said, Hey, see that’s the pyramid like, okay, what’s that?
[00:05:41] And I’m like, that’s the Steelcase engineering building now. I don’t think they own it anymore. but at the time it was a really cool building to work in. So I worked there for a little over a year and then Joe’s ARN, came and recruited me from there to come to Whirlpool.
[00:05:54] I was doing design work at Steelcase. I was doing, um, electrical pathways for, uh, furniture for office furniture. wire harness type work along with plastics and. Again, things I had done before. but change it over to office furniture. And then Joe came along and offered me the opportunity to come to Whirlpool and work on washers.
[00:06:15] Casey Tubman: Really cool new projects. at that time, Calypso, as many people know it was in the works. Cool.
[00:06:23] Zach White: So people listening to this, aren’t going to know what Calypso is, but I won’t pull history that. Legendary from when I started people talked about Calypso and that
[00:06:31] Casey Tubman: was a big project. it was a very large project.
[00:06:33] It was a new age washing machine as we called it back then. it was a good opportunity. I said, yeah, I’m interested. And it’s, it’s funny because as I came back, in February to take this role, one of the guys who I ran into right away, Brenner. it’s still working for us in the washer area and is on my team.
[00:06:53] Actually, he was my first boss, not Joe’s our Joe’s aren’t recruited me, but I worked for Brenner sharp. first year in Brenner and I had two or three patents, on some suspension work that we were doing. So. Several years in the washer group and several patents later, that was a great first experience here.
[00:07:10] Zach White: That’s amazing. So, you’ve got a decade plus of engineering, you know, experiences we could talk about. and then some tremendous stuff after that, I want to make sure we dig into, but if you were going to pay. a moment that stands out from your engineering career that you’re like, this was the pinnacle, this was the coolest thing I worked on or the most proud accomplishment.
[00:07:30] Does anything stand out to you? Casey? Is that peak moment?
[00:07:33] I say it all the time. When people, people I talk to and just in general, there was a project, for what’s called the fabric freshener, which is not a core washer, dryer product, but kind of a accessory that goes with. called a steam cabinet, let’s say, but it’s collapsed.
[00:07:50] Casey Tubman: We took that there were seven engineers on the team, and then we had a marketing person maybe a GSS person of support or something. but basically seven of us worked on it or 18 months we started. The GCD team giving a sketches. and we were partnered up with, black and Decker at the time, in Mexico, global
[00:08:09] Zach White: consumer design for people who don’t know the Whirlpool lingo, no worries.
[00:08:13] Casey Tubman: Global consumer designer. He gave us the sketches. we started engineering it right away and we took it from those sketches through all the development phases, all the build phases, tooling it and everything. We tooled it around the world then brought them back to Mexico. We actually built an assembly line in the black and Decker factory in Mexico, because they were going to build it for us.
[00:08:34] We were helping with the design, they were going to build it. and in 18 months we ran production. So seven people, 18 months go from sketches to a full production line of a functioning, new to the world appliance, great team of people to work with. Great thing to work on, go in and out of Mexico, work on the fact, literally on the factory line, ourselves building the line.
[00:08:56] you know, we were there when it was going on and just a great experience with sometimes smaller projects give you much better experience.
[00:09:05] Zach White: That’s awesome. So I want to hover on this for a moment because one of the things that comes up again and again and again, in these conversations on the podcast is you call it a high-performing team dynamic.
[00:09:18] That might be the HR buzzword for it, but there’s something about that experience when you do get settled into an amazing team with a great project that has a clear. Vision and impact that you can actually make the progress and go deliver like, something about that dynamic that everybody talks about.
[00:09:37] Like those are the, those are the days I actually am curious, Casey, for your perspective, why is it, do you think that. Many people have never actually had that experience. Why is it so hard to create those kinds of dynamics in organizations? It’s like, everybody’s striving for it. All the leaders know how important high performing teams are.
[00:09:59] And yet a lot of engineers like coach really have no experience. Like what you just described to lean back to, what do you think blocks us from having more.
[00:10:09] for me the thing that pops up in my head and I’m seeing it right now, as I, as I said, as I come back into this area is the teams are very large now and they’re very.
[00:10:20] matrix, and spread out across the world? we were seven people that literally sat in a small corner of this tech center. No one knew what we were there. We were kind of that’s the other thing I think being out of the spotlight helped us. we cared about each.
[00:10:35] Casey Tubman: Even though no one may have cared about what we were doing. Again, it was, it was like the last project on the list. Let’s call it. and so there were other people that were getting the spotlight and the limelight and everything. We didn’t care. We just wanted to get our stuff done. Do it really well and have a product that we knew the consumer was going to love.
[00:10:52] All of us loved it as we were designing it. And so we were like, this is the best thing. Consumers are going to love it and it’s going to be great. And so we were passionate about it. and so if you have a team of people, they’re tight knit and they’re focused and they’re passionate. It’s, it’s a great experience.
[00:11:07] But to your point, You don’t get that on every project, because a lot of times you have your small segment that you worked on and that that’s maybe another thing with this team. We all played whatever place we needed to, whatever role we needed to play. That’s what we did. one week somebody might be on vacation.
[00:11:23] Another person just had to fill in and do the work, take it over. we might not have had a person that was, Hey, this is your, the chassis. Well, we didn’t have that. It was, Hey guys, we need to do this work. Who’s got time this week versus, you know, a month from now where it, this is exactly when you only have seven, if you can’t point very far less.
[00:11:42] Zach White: That is super interesting and certainly no easy answer or companies would have solved it by now, but it reminds me at least in terms of the values you described, I think it’s Ronald Reagan gets credit for the quote, it’s amazing how much we can accomplish if we don’t care who gets the credit.
[00:11:57] Okay. At least for me, that’s something that I find really difficult to instill into that organization because everybody wants the spotlight in some way, even the engineering team, you know, if we want to build our careers and get credit for the great work we’re doing, we want to be seen. And that’s tough to get people to just fall in love with the project and be passionate about the customer.
[00:12:18] you know, as you described it. So I don’t know. Tough question.
[00:12:21] Casey Tubman: No, I think one other thing, as you’re talking about Zach, that comes to mind is we didn’t actually have the time to worry about who was going to get the credit. To be honest again, with seven people, we were so busy. We worked many weeks.
[00:12:34] In this building in the labs, I can remember many weekends traveling. and during that project, I started doing my MBA. And so I was gone on a Friday and Saturday, but that meant I probably worked the weekend in between, or on Sunday. I had to get some work done, or even on that Friday and Saturday between a class or in the evening or something.
[00:12:53] and I can remember flying in and out of Mexico. Sometimes I’d fly in literally to go to class, to turn around and then fly back. at least for me, I didn’t have time to worry about who’s getting the credit honestly. And I think the other guys on the team were similar to that.
[00:13:07] Casey Tubman: None of them were, trying to take all the work and say, oh, I’ll take credit for this. I don’t, I don’t think that was ever the case.
[00:13:14] Zach White: Would you say at any point in that 18 months you felt burned out by the amount of effort and energy it was requiring to get it done?
[00:13:22] Casey Tubman: Honestly, no. No. And I mean, you know, me a little bit, I’m, I’m a high energy person, let’s say, uh, and people say, how do you do it?
[00:13:30] I say, I sleep once in awhile. but no, honestly it was such a great project and we were so passionate about it. And we were, learning new things because again, this was a space like the material, it was a collapsible, right? So it was a bag material. We had never done bag textiles for heat, steam, and other things.
[00:13:48] I got to learn about that through a supplier, travel over to Europe, to meet with them and, go through all the information, see their factories and things like that. again, great experience and no time to worry about other things, you’re excited about what you’re doing, burnout doesn’t come, let’s say.
[00:14:03] Zach White: Right, right. I get a lot of calls from engineers all around the world. KC. Burned out. And one of the first things that always comes up is I’m having to work weekends. I’m having to work nights or, you know, log back on after dinner, after my kids are. And they’re looking at schedule as one of their beliefs on a key driver of burnout.
[00:14:22] And what I’ve seen across the board is that doesn’t correlate. Cause there’s so many examples of people like yourself, or you look into the entrepreneurial space. I look at what I’ve been doing, you know, building my business and the hours don’t create burnout. There’s a totally different.
[00:14:38] Realities. And if you were working those hours, but there was no real passion or purpose behind the project, you didn’t want to be there. You didn’t have that high performing team. You felt disconnected from the people and the purpose and the customer and all that might be a different.
[00:14:54] Casey Tubman: Correct. I go back to the quote, right?
[00:14:56] Love what you do. You’ll never work a day of your life. That’s good. I’ve experienced that for 25 years now and I’m just continuing to push forward with it as best I can try it the next day, you know, try the next thing that see if you love it. And if you love it, you don’t really work. So, uh, it’s fanned out well, so.
[00:15:15] Zach White: right. So you, you crushed it in engineering for a decade, and then your resume starts to take a crazy turn away from the typical engineering path. And I won’t go through every job, but, you know, director of product development. So on the marketing side, a director of sales, a senior director of merchandising, P and L responsibilities and ownership, then a general manager, vice president level role, and dishwasher products, doing product marketing at a VP level.
[00:15:43] In EMEA, which is Europe, middle east, and Africa region. going overseas and supporting that and, then back into engineering. So a bit of a hiatus from engineering. I know there’s a lot we could unpack in there, but maybe go back to the moment where you first left engineering. what was the thing going on in your mind?
[00:16:02] Why, why make that decision? Anything that sort of sparked that desire to. Walk into the business side and marketing. Sure.
[00:16:10] Casey Tubman: A couple of things. So anytime I buy and sell things, that’s kind of my deal.
[00:16:15] And so when I was an engineer while I love the engineering work and I’m a hands-on engineer, I still, love to get my hands dirty. Uh, I was doing it this morning with the guys up in the lab. you know, there’s that side, then there’s the other side, which is the business side, which is all.
[00:16:28] Hey, are we getting the best price for the materials we’re buying? Are we really negotiating well, did we negotiate with the trade partner on the flooring? And are we selling as many as we could? Could I change my pricing a little bit, get a little more margin, but I do more volume if I lower the price.
[00:16:42] And there was always that in my mindset, the art of the deal, let’s say, and, uh, I love negotiating. So I always had the sense that I want to try the business side at one time and see what it’s like and see what the expenses. So as I was in the engineering roles, I decided at some point in time, okay.
[00:16:59] I’d like to get my MBA. I didn’t, I don’t know if I even knew what that meant at that time, to be honest, 25 years old, you’re in engineering and you’re, you might understand what that means and you might not, I probably did not to be honest, but I knew it was. I had a ticket to then get a seat at the table to have the conversation.
[00:17:16] Whereas if I just had my engineering degree, it was going to be much harder to do that. And it’s not that it’s not possible. It just it’s, it’s harder. so I ended up getting my MBA as you know, and then the other thing at Whirlpool, I never went looking for jobs. People always came and knocked on my door or somebody said, Hey, you need to go see this person.
[00:17:35] And I always ask, why do I have to go see that person? I don’t even know who that person is. Well, this is who they are. And they’re going to talk to you about a job. I answered that question one time and said, do I have to take that job? My boss said, yes, you have to take the job if it’s offered. So always good advice.
[00:17:50] so, so again, I, I, uh, I made that transition over. At a time where it was a job, and this is the other thing that’s been part of my success, I think, is any job I took. I knew how to do 40% of it. The day I stepped into it. So I went from laundry engineering to laundry, product development, and I was on the sear sales and marketing team.
[00:18:10] Casey Tubman: That’s a mouthful as well, but it’s basically the team here or pull that sells to see you. And on that team, you have people that are in charge of the product, like the plan to sell what the innovation is going to be and so on. And so you work with the consumer on one. And you work with engineering on the other half.
[00:18:27] So it was the perfect job for me. I spent two days a week in the tech center, two days a week at our administrative center at that time, or our global headquarters, And then, one day a week with Sears and in Chicago. Awesome. Great experience could not have been better. I will tell anybody that if you get the opportunity to have a safe.
[00:18:45] Role or a role on a sales team, even if you’re not the sales person, just being around that atmosphere, you learn so much. that sparked my interest. Then, I did a little brand work. I did a little sales work. I did a little bit of merchandising, so I went.
[00:19:01] laundry engineering, to laundry product development. Then I went to dishwasher, product development. So I knew the product development I had to learn dishwashers. Then I went to dishwasher sales, and when I picked up dishwasher sales, they gave me cooking sales. So I had to learn the cooking part and I had to learn a sale.
[00:19:18] Casey Tubman: I think this
[00:19:18] Zach White: is a really important thing. So lessons Casey, like a lot of engineers that I work with, if they don’t feel close to a hundred percent ready for the job that they’re applying for, they have a lot of, you know, that imposter syndrome, the uncertainty am I good enough? What if I fail at that job?
[00:19:34] And, uh, you know, here, you’re saying 40% is enough. Like if I can get 40% on day, Then I’m ready. Let’s go. And I think that mindset
[00:19:43] Casey Tubman: it’s huge. I felt really good at 40%. Like that was an advantage. I think most people are 10 to 20%, knowledgeable. I mean, I’ve seen people again, you take, uh, a laundry person doing a product development job.
[00:19:55] I’ve seen them go to a kitchen job of one of the categories there, and maybe it’s in a brand marketing guys. Those two are completely different things. and so you’re making a huge. at that time. Yeah, for me, it just never worked out that way and it wasn’t that I planned. So that was the other thing we talked about.
[00:20:11] Like, again, I never asked for anything, I didn’t have a plan. I will tell you the funniest story and I’ve repeated it to other people. But I came to Whirlpool. I took a job and I think at the time, call it 50 ish thousand dollars a year. I don’t remember. but I told my wife, I said, if I can just get to manager level, we will be set for life.
[00:20:31] that’s it. That’s what we need to get to, and we’re going to live nice. We’re gonna live high and we’re going to be great. And of course, as you get each level of engineering and as you become a manager or a senior manager or a director and so on, it’s like you learn a little more and you say, oh, you know what?
[00:20:48] Casey Tubman: I might want to get to that next level. So I didn’t set out saying I want to be a vice president. I never did. I set out saying I knew I was going to be an engineer. I’d like to have some business experience at some point in time. And if I got to manage your level, I was going to be all set. And, and that’s kinda how we live.
[00:21:06] To be honest while I was, while we were, having kids and all those other things, it was just, day to day, get through things, keep doing the job, love what you do. And eventually things just continue to roll.
[00:21:19] Zach White: Casey, I would put you in the category of ultimate overachiever, if your original goal was manager.
[00:21:26] Casey Tubman: That’s why, that’s why I say it’s a funny story because people are like, what? Like, no, really. That’s literally what I said to her. I think
[00:21:33] Zach White: that’s, sound wise advice for anybody listening to this conversation that it’s okay for. What. To not want to be VP, there’s this weird societal pressure that if you don’t want to be the superstar leader, you’ve got some, goal atrophy problem.
[00:21:51] And then on the flip side, to say, I want to really crush it just right where I’m at and maybe focus on that one level up and that’s enough for now. that’s a really great place to be. It’s okay. It’s okay to do that.
[00:22:04] Casey Tubman: When I came to Whirlpool, I was actually a contract. So, and you, you work with the people that are already employees.
[00:22:09] I wasn’t even an employee. When I came here, I was a contractor for six months. Then I became a permanent. And again, I’ve been here for twenty-five years. So
[00:22:18] Zach White: you made a comment earlier, Casey, about having a seat at the table. And how that MBA from Notre Dame was for you. You may not have even really known why you needed it other than it represented this ticket.
[00:22:31] here you are way on the other side of that. And a lot has changed in the world and an MBA. You know, people have debating beliefs about what that means, but just in general, if you’re an engineering leader, looking to get a seat at the table, It’s something that’s bigger than just the technology side.
[00:22:48] Do you want to go into the business? You want to lead, you know, have a P and L responsibility, et cetera. What do you thinks on that punch list of what it takes to get a seat at the table now? Is it the same or has it changed?
[00:23:00] honestly, I think it’s a lot of the same because again, getting out of the engineering ranks and into the business side, it’s going to be tough when they see you as just an engineer.
[00:23:08] Casey Tubman: At least when you have that MBA, you can say, no, I know a little bit about business. I think the second thing for me was, I was always asking the questions on more than just my. So I could have designed the suspension I was working on or the chassis I was working on or electronics or whatever it was.
[00:23:25] I could have designed those, but it was also a question of why am I designing them and how do they interact with other areas of the unit and that also then with the consumer. So as I came to Whirlpool, because I grew up in a farm community, I knew about tractors and I knew about farmers and I knew a little bit about that consumer, as I came to Whirlpool, I really had to understand the consumer more.
[00:23:46] and I learned more and more like, Hey, the more, you know, the consumer, the better your design will be. So even as an engineer, you want to know those consumers. And again, we can all talk to consumers, call your mom, call your brother, call your sister-in-law, whoever you need to you, you can find consumers they’re all over.
[00:24:04] Casey Tubman: They all have appliances. and so I spent a lot of time trying to learn that. And as I was on that project about the fabric fresheners, I mentioned we had a dedicated marketing person that I could spend time. and ask a lot of questions and go on the research. So I learned more and more about some of the stuff that was going on that then gave me a voice.
[00:24:23] when I would talk to somebody about not just the engineering space I was working on, but why it was important. I was working on this, why I was developing what I was developing. It was because it meant something to this consumer in here. that’s part of the toolkit that people have to understand.
[00:24:37] Casey Tubman: I don’t think if you just keep your, I’ll call it silo, blinders on and focus on just your area and just the engineering part of it. you’re going to get a look at the broader picture. You have to have that more well-rounded view. And then you’ll start saying, okay, now I understand what’s going on here, how I piece things together.
[00:24:56] And then when you have a conversation with somebody on the business side, they can see it as well.
[00:25:01] Zach White: I just had a conversation last week with a senior manager level leader, I believe manager or senior manager. And we were talking about this exact concept, you know, Hey, how are you doing around building connection points outside of just engineering?
[00:25:16] And the reason the story pops into my mind, Casey, is because. The result of our diagnostic was not good. it’s not going well. They’re really siloed, really just focused on downline, you know, his team and the things that on his roadmap, et cetera. So it was, a great F if you will, in terms of.
[00:25:35] The performance there. And when we probed into like, what are the barriers for why you’re not pursuing that? Because there was a immediate response, like, oh, I know that’s really important. I know it’s something I should say. Okay, well, what’s blocking you from doing it. And the response was initially. How could I make time for that when I have so much to do already within my own silence.
[00:25:59] paraphrasing a bit, but just to paint the picture here. So two things for you, I’m curious about one. How do you approach making that a priority even back to your engineering days? Cause you’ve kind of described for me even before we hit record today that this has always been a part of your approach.
[00:26:17] what’s the strategy in terms of how you make time for it or fit it in. And maybe the second piece is can you help us create some more urgency around like it’s really important? don’t miss your
[00:26:28] I think I mentioned on our pre-conversation as well. I didn’t know.
[00:26:32] Casey Tubman: I wasn’t like laying out, Hey, I want to move to marketing. Therefore I’m going to do these things in my job. It just was something my mind said, Hey, you should know about the consumer if you’re designing for that consumer. and so it’s super important to your point about making time for it. It was part of my siloed job at the time too.
[00:26:49] I mean, I, I was working on, for instance, I was working on, the lid and the inside of the lid on, on a washing project, on a washer. And of course I wanted to know all the graphics that were on it. What did they need to say? Well, what did we need to tell the consumer? What did the consumer want to know?
[00:27:05] what was that user care kind of quick tips that they want always in front of them, on the inside of the lid. the inner lid, as we used to call them, I don’t know if you remember, but great in-mold decoration before its time, 20 years ago when, before it was, really being used.
[00:27:20] Casey Tubman: So again, a good project, but back to your point, talking about things again, learning about the consumer, what they were going to do, finding that time, because then you can have the conversation. You don’t feel uncomfortable. Let’s say having the conversation with the marketing person or the product development person that you’re talking to, or even a salesperson for that matter, whoever it may be.
[00:27:40] you can have a broader conversation if you started to learn those things back to again, workload is always tough. People will say I’m working, you know, crazy. Here’s the other one I’ve learned in the last two to three. I knew it even probably five years ago, but I really put it into practice. The last two in Europe, What I learned was we spend way too much time in meetings. either reviewing something that’s already happened in detail that you don’t need to know, 30 people in a room and only three people talking. So observing I’ll call it.
[00:28:10] Casey Tubman: So at that time, I gave my team a very clear message. Look, you don’t want to go to a meeting because you don’t think it’s adding value for us as a company, or you as a person don’t. And in fact, then we said, not only that don’t invite people, that aren’t going to be speaking at the meeting, then we went to pre reads where you had to send information in advance, which meant you had to send an elevator pitch.
[00:28:31] Cause you couldn’t send every bit of detail, although that’s how it started. 60, 70 page decks. but you couldn’t send all that in advance. expect somebody to understand it. So you send them what could be understandable then at the meetings, it was guys, let’s just have a conversation about what’s going on.
[00:28:48] What decision do we need to make, or what’s the issue we’re dealing with andwhat are the things we need to get people’s buy in or what’s the help needed? And so getting people out of meetings was like my mind. and it made a huge difference over there. engagement scores went up 10 plus points.
[00:29:04] people were happy to be at work. the workload comment was gone. Like it wasn’t in the engagement at all. so coming back, I’m seeing a lot of that too. I’ve told the teams guys again, minimize meetings, minimize people in them, send a pre read in advance and get to the heart of the issue.
[00:29:21] I think our fastest tollgate is now. I want to say it was 13 minutes. If I remember right.
[00:29:26] Zach White: wait a sec, 13 minutes. These were like three hour meetings when I was a
[00:29:30] Casey Tubman: Whirlpool case. Exactly, exactly. So,we’re working on it, but to me, that’s the time we need to free up, get people out of meetings, work, get work, done.
[00:29:38] Meetings are not work, get work done, and then spend some time on the other things as well.
[00:29:44] Zach White: Meetings are not work. That’s my quote of this podcast. So far meetings are not work.
[00:29:51] Casey Tubman: Think about it.
[00:29:53] Zach White: Super important. Super important. So, well, we’ll quick anecdote on this. I have a senior director client and she will not attend a meeting that she didn’t receive a concise, clear preread on and understands what she’s expected to bring and speak about and do.
[00:30:11] as a rule with her team. And so I think a lot of people are starting to realize you on Amazon has a really robust culture around this and people who work within Amazon and in that organization with writing these basically papers about every meeting before they happen. And so I pay attention engineering leaders, listening like meetings and fix it.
[00:30:30] Casey Tubman: And by the way, two other things on this is. and again, I’m an engineer, so I fell into this until somebody coached me on it. You want to tell people every detail you worked on what you did cause you want to get that. That’s your work. You want to get credit. In the end. I hate to say that the leader on the other side of it or the marketing person, or, you know, depending on who it is, they want to know the outcome.
[00:30:53] They want to know the result and the outcome and how it implies to them. And in a language they understand because that’s another thing we have to work on is our language. if we speak to them in a consumer language, boil it down to a few key facts, that’s much better than 10 minutes. Too much detail that people don’t need to know.
[00:31:10] And I like P and G I know does this, they have the one pager, right? I think you may have heard this before, but as the preread or the prep for a meeting, you had to send a one page and it’s limited one page and you can’t find it down to two, five. It has to be one page. so as this two year progression happened towards the end, we got to the point.
[00:31:30] People kind of knew the expectation, but we even put like a template, a number thing together, a guide to say, look, if, if you’re a 15 minute meeting, you get three slides no more. If you’re a half hour meeting, you get five slides no more. If you’re an hour, no more than 10. And it, and I didn’t even like that, I think tends to.
[00:31:50] Zach White: Oh man. Well, okay. Case. So there’s so many places I want to go, but the thing I know a lot of our listeners will want to understand for someone who’s gone through the number of transitions that you have reached the next level, time and time again. And now, even at a bigger scope than what you’ve done before.
[00:32:07] if somebody is in your shoes, They’re there landed a big, big opportunity. It’s a promotion. It’s a big scope. Something’s changed. What is your lens on how to go from that 40% to the breakeven point or, you know, a hundred percent, whatever you want to call that, as fast as possible, but in a reasonable expectation, like how do you think about ramping up?
[00:32:30] Zach White: What would be the keys to success for somebody who’s looking for? How do I get ready to step into a big.
[00:32:37] do have a rule on this one. I have a lot of rules. I’m a guide guideline rule type of person process, all that, but I also break them all the time. My wife tells me so, um, but, but honestly the thing I say is 30, 60, 90 days.
[00:32:52] Casey Tubman: So as you come into a new role, especially a big role, As you move to a bigger and bigger rank, your shadow gets bigger and bigger. So anything you say goes to a lot more people and a lot more impact and so on.
[00:33:04] So. The first 90 days, my rule is no major changes. So don’t come in and think you’re going to change the world and start making a bunch of changes, knee jerk reaction. I would call it in 90 days. So the first 30 days is really about learning, getting to know the people very well, and really learning the basics of the role in the background and things like.
[00:33:25] 30 to 60 is doing still learning, observing all that, but then starting to think through like, Hey, I think this here’s my hypothesis of a change. I may want to. take note of those to yourself, not sharing them broadly again, cause the impact and then, 60 to 90 is okay. Here’s the things I believe we need to change, discuss them with your leadership team or your tight, your interview close in team. Before again, you go broader with them. And then at 90 days, okay, now you have enough, feed on the ground time. Let’s call it background time. Hopefully you won’t miss step. Because again, in that first 90 days, you could easily take a wrong direction and, have a misstep and you just don’t need it.
[00:34:10] and by the way, I always tell whoever I’m coming to work for that same thing. Here’s what you should expect from me. I’m going to learn as fast as I can, but I’m also going to learn for 30 days. I’m going to think for 30 days and I’m going to start to execute for 30 days and then I’ll be ready to run at 90.
[00:34:25] Casey Tubman: and that seems to have worked again many times. Again, that 40% start always helps. having some knowledge before you take the role, whether it’s, one half or one part of the role, but you have that knowledge, it just helps a ton versus starting out brand new, starting out brand new.
[00:34:41] It’s the same rules though. Learn for 30 days. Just put stuff together for 30 days and then get ready to go. Okay. That’s kind of been my that’s been my go-to.
[00:34:54] Zach White: I think that’s an easy framework to work with and no surprise the engineer inside Casey would, would show up a bit in your rules around onboarding.
[00:35:03] if there was one, skill set or mindset or something that you bring. As a senior leader now that’s distinctly different than what you might’ve thought or believed as a junior engineer. Does anything come to mind, Casey on what really stands out to you as important in yourself and your own development and leadership now versus, you know, when you’re in project then and doing the work,
[00:35:28] Casey Tubman: I would say.
[00:35:29] what I see now, what I didn’t see then was then it was all about the work, the engineering, the get stuff done, deliver on deliverables, things of that nature. And of course, there’s always some of the, we call it the how here. how you work with others and interact and, and the team and the people and things of that nature.
[00:35:49] Casey Tubman: But I would have said it was 90 10, right? I would have said 90% of the work and 10% of the people side. Now I say, it’s the opposite. It’s 90% of the people side. That’s 10% of the work. and I say that because the only way we’re successful. Is that people that are making it happen. I think that probably that, that switch happens over different levels, right?
[00:36:10] Somewhere in middle management, you get to that 50, 50, you’re still doing some of the work yourself. but then when you get to director senior director type role, you’re doing 25% of the work and 75% is all your team just doing. When you get to vice-president, I hate to say, it’s your team doing 99 and I’m doing one work.
[00:36:28] And so, uh, I have been a big believer in that over time that that’s something you have to come to recognize. And as soon as you recognize it, you’re going to be better off for it. Your team’s going to be better off for it. And our company’s better off for it.
[00:36:41] Zach White: Amazing. I love how you painted the kind of arc of.
[00:36:45] Shift over levels and time and growth. Sometimes that person who’s, maybe you’re two years out of college. You just got your first engineering job. It seems like the other day. And you’re already attempting to put that vice president hat on. It’s like, you know, this is. Becomes a part of you through the experiences and the growth and the levels, and, having that big team, it’s not the way you’re going to experience your job on day one.
[00:37:12] Exactly. That’s really important.
[00:37:14] Casey Tubman: No, I, like I said, for me, it was always head down, get the work done. And just not think about those other things. And what I learned over time is it basically worked for awhile. Now I’m the one doing the opposite, which is going and knocking on doors or asking, Hey, who’s the upcoming person again.
[00:37:31] That’s how I got my roles. As somebody asked someone else brilliant, Hey, who’s the upcoming engineer that we need to bring to product development. And I can remember Dick Conrad was the guy that answered the question. Look, it’s Casey. From what I could tell. Cause the guy who hired me at that time, Paul Koopmans, I had never met him.
[00:37:47] I didn’t know him at all. And he hired
[00:37:50] Zach White: me. Amazing. So, perfect segue into the last question in KC. I always end in the same place. So if somebody listening to this conversation wants to be. Next in line engineered to get picked. they have a desire to achieve success. They want to find that fulfillment in their career.
[00:38:10] They want to grow. What I believe is that great engineering, great leadership, great coaching have in common, something that you and I both learned in op ex there at Whirlpool Corp. That questions. Answer’s follow. And if we want to get better answers in our life, let’s ask better questions. So if somebody wants to have that success, what would be a question that you would lead them with today?
[00:38:39] I think for me it would be what’s keeping them from it. what is that barrier? Is it an education? Is it a position? Yeah. Being in the right place at the right time. Is it having a connection, to the person who normally gets asked to the next upcoming engineer is, is it not having the right mentor?
[00:38:57] there’s so many things, but I think that the question to ask is why, what is that barrier? and then there’ll be subsequent wise beyond that.
[00:39:08] Zach White: What’s keeping you. From being that next obvious choice. Yeah. Why
[00:39:13] Casey Tubman: aren’t you, the candidate, why aren’t you the obvious choice? How do you get on the list?
[00:39:17] All those types of things.
[00:39:19] Zach White: Casey, if someone’s immediate reaction to that question is, I don’t know, where would you recommend them go first?
[00:39:27] I would send them to. Maybe not their boss in the engineering side, probably someone on the opposite side of the business, that interfaces. So, and again, I’m sure some of your clients are Whirlpool people, but so they know that, you know, we interface with product marketing on a regular basis, talk to the product marketing counterparts, how did they pick their last people? They recruited her that they.
[00:39:48] Zach White: I love the answer and what I want to highlight for everybody out there is the answer is almost every time a hoop, go start talking to people and, you know, engineers notoriously like to keep to ourselves.
[00:40:01] We blame introversion or pick another excuse for why that is, but. I was hoping you would say something about like, go talk to somebody and that’s exactly what you said. So
[00:40:12] Casey Tubman: for sure, you’re not going to find it in a book. You’re not going to find it in a process manual. It’s definitely going to be talking to people.
[00:40:19] Zach White: Well, Casey, absolutely amazing opportunity to talk with you today. And if somebody wants to apply for that open job or just follow your success in the future, is there any way that folks would best be suited to connect?
[00:40:32] Casey Tubman: Yep. I, uh, by the way, I’m sitting up with the engineering team, uh, once again.
[00:40:36] So, uh, they can all walk up to my desk if they’re here, but if they’re not, I’m on LinkedIn, you can easily find me on LinkedIn and I get those messages direct to my phone. So I’m quick to answer them. Brilliant.
[00:40:47] I’m sure a lot of the engineering leaders who heard this would be honored to have the chance to connect with you.
[00:40:53] Zach White: And certainly if they’re wanting to be that next level of talent, you better bring your a game. Cause Casey’s only looking for a players. So note that, but, you know how we roll? Absolutely. Casey, thanks again. This has been tremendous.
[00:41:05] Casey Tubman: Thanks Zach. I appreciate it.