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Engineering His Way toward the Top

Brazilian Exec found the challenges he was looking for

Daniel Zardo
Sr Program Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Vanderbilt Global Executive MBA 2013

Daniel Zardo’s resumé was impressive well before he came to Vanderbilt. A citizen of Brazil (he speaks both Portuguese and English fluently), Daniel led a team of engineers for Whirlpool Corporation, the multinational manufacturer that is one of the best known home appliance brands in the United States.

On assignment for his company in Italy, he oversaw a group that developed a new cooling system for household refrigerators to be produced in Poland. Back in his native Brazil, Daniel — a Six Sigma Black Belt — led the Whirlpool team responsible for quality improvement, innovation and cost reduction.

In 2011, Daniel accepted a two-year, international assignment for his company that brought him to Evansville, Indiana. Then he decided to take on another major task: pursue the Global Executive MBA at Vanderbilt — a degree oriented toward global business, especially in this hemisphere.

Daniel, who self-funded his education and travelled from southern Indiana every other week for classes, came to Vanderbilt “to be exposed to different challenges,” he says. “All of my experiences had been with product development and engineering. I thought a lot about it, and this was my chance. It was time to take advantage while I was here and had a job here.”

These days, when he is designing a refrigerator, Daniel notices himself problem-solving creatively because, he says: “I have a different way to think now. I look at costs for different things. I look at how we’re going to perform in the market. I look at the business side. I didn’t have that vision before. That’s what changed.”

But it’s not the only thing that changed for Daniel. As he neared completion of the program, which included a residency back home in Brazil, he received a promotion. Now, as Senior Project Manager in southern Brazil, he oversees the development of new products for Whirlpool Latin America.