BENTON HARBOR — Liz Door has been an executive at two Fortune 500 companies.
However, it’s the second one that has made her a prominent presence in Southwest Michigan.
The St. Joseph resident is a senior vice president of global strategic sourcing at Whirlpool Corp., where her division is responsible for acquiring all parts and materials for the company. Door and her team are responsible for billions of dollars in annual purchases, including components purchases – such as motors, metal and harnesses – and purchases in other goods and services – including advertising agency support.
“Anything needed to run the business, we purchase it for the company,” Door said.
They work with internal business partners in engineering, marketing, information technology and beyond to manage external suppliers that meet their cost, quality and other business needs. Door was promoted to this global position in July 2017. Previously, she held a similar role that focused on the North American region.
Door, who has been with the Benton Harbor company a little over seven years, was drawn to the appliance sector from General Motors. Door held several titles during her 15-year tenure with GM.
She started as a package engineer before going into what she refers to as “the fishbowl” of global purchasing and supply chain.
“I had made it through the bankruptcy at General Motors, which was a very difficult time. Many employees had their resumes on the street,” Door said. “I saw the emersion out of bankruptcy and two new CEOs (with GM). We were on the up and up when this opportunity presented itself to me.”
When she was approached by an external third party for the Whirlpool job, Door took the first meeting and found herself interested. Several meetings and interviews later, Door agreed to come work in Benton Harbor.
“It was a really big life decision because GM is the type of company – similar to Whirlpool – that people lead an entire career there,” she said. “I went from one iconic corporation to another.”
Door said she was more of a subject matter expert in a subsystem of a vehicle at GM. Her scope of information at GM was more in depth in terms of technical knowledge, where she focused on chassis. At Whirlpool, Door said her job called for a broader approach.
No average day
Door is originally from Oxford, Mich., a small suburb outside of Detroit. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, and would later pick up her master’s in business administration – which she earned later in her career while working at GM.
She’s also spent time on the assembly line. Her first job out of college was as a quality engineer in a Chrysler plant in St. Louis, Mo. Door made her way back to Michigan by securing a contract engineering job. It was there that she got closer to the product itself.
At Whirlpool, she said there is no average day.
She can begin her day talking with team members in China or India about the state of their financials. Throughout the day she can look at new business Whirlpool is sourcing.
“I enjoy my work because it’s very measurable. That’s what attracted me to working in this space and it’s why I’ve stayed,” she said. “In the supply chain field, you see results. You impact the revenue through delivering great product, as well as the business’ value proposition through productivity.”
At the time of this interview, Door was looking at the direct-to-consumer business and IT solutions that were being bought for the company.
“It could be looking at things like the motors that go into our washers or dryers, so it can be a whole collection of anything we’re purchasing,” Door said.
Door tries to keep the number of her meetings down through the week. But the year’s calendar tends to fill up quickly.
“The key for an executive is trying to make sure you’re spending your time in the most valuable way possible, because it’s finite,” Door said.
At the beginning of the interview, Door is pragmatic about her duties. When asked what her normal day entails, Door says: “I work every day and take care of my kids.”
Door met her husband after college through mutual friends. “We knew of each other, but had never met,” she said.
Together, the Doors raise two children, who they decided would learn another language.
When Door joined Whirlpool, she and her husband discovered an outreach program called “Bridge to China,” which offers programs for families in the area. Now their children are learning to speak Chinese.
“When we moved here they were taking Spanish,” she said. “At the time, some friends of ours informed us of this program. For me it was important that they learn another language because it’s one thing I regret not doing.”
Door said she knows a minuscule amount of Chinese through her global travels alone. This personal interest reinforces what she’s learned by leading teams across geographic borders and cultures.
At Whirlpool, she’s involved in the Women’s Network, an employee resource group that allows female workers to meet and push one another up the corporate ladder.
She is also involved in the United Way of Southwest Michigan. Last year, she was chairperson for Whirlpool’s United Way campaign.
“The environment here, you can embrace it. In a big city you can be isolated. Here, you can immediately get embedded both professionally and personally,” Door said. As for where she sees herself in the next few years, Door is hopeful. “It depends on where life takes you. I’m really grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given here. We’ve still got a lot to do and accomplish.”
Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski