Global Team Leadership Award
Haier Global Dryer Team
GE Appliances, a Haier Company
For a leadership style that promotes open communication and respect; for creating a diverse team that inspires innovation and collaboration; and for leveraging global technical expertise to develop new technologies.
Imagine the difficulty of developing an international team with a single goal to quickly solve the technical challenges faced by an international company that manufactures appliances. The team’s mission: increase the speed of the development and market the launch of new products while improving existing ones by incorporating the know-how and proficiency of engineering experts in cities around the world.
Ionelia Silvia Prajescu, technical director at GE Appliances, saw the technical challenges experienced throughout the company’s global manufacturing centers as an opportunity to harness the collective knowledge, execution, and level of performance in the dryer product category across Haier businesses, the parent company of GE Appliances. They include representatives from Haier regional business markets like China, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Germany, Italy, and the U.S.
Prajescu is the GE Appliances clothes care director for the dryer platform and also serves as technical director for the Dryer Center of Excellence. She has 30+ years of technical experience, 22 of which are in clothes dryer technology, and is the first woman at GE Appliances to earn the title of technical director. After completing her mechanical engineering degree in her native Romania, Prajescu worked for appliance companies in Mexico, Canada, and the U.S., which all would eventually be purchased by Haier.
She presented her idea to company executives, who embraced her proposal to form a global team. She posited that the team would comprise engineering experts from seven countries on four continents and represent diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, languages, cultures, practices, and standards.
Known as the Global Dryer Team for Haier, the group sought to optimize design; standardize the company’s testing, analytics, and evaluation processes; provide inspiration based on international markets’ experience and consumer feedback; and lead the development of new technologies.
Prajescu launched the team in early 2018 with a core group of 20 representatives from Haier regional business markets in China, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. Italy and Germany joined the team a year later. To corral their expertise into a cohesive and collaborative team, Prajescu unified the team to understand each region’s specific market demands and focus on common goals and objectives. She met with small regional groups each month and was able to turn an intrinsic difficulty — working in different time zones all over the world — into a benefit as they could work seamlessly for 24 hours. Testing might take place in one country, while data analysis was carried out on another continent across a 12-hour time difference.
Under Prajescu’s leadership, the team launched several new or improved products in less than three years. These include the U.S. market’s first 24-inch ENERGY STAR vented dryer and a 24-inch ENERGY STAR condensing dryer to replace an imported product and existing dryer models. Both products offered improved drying performance. To date, four engineering complex test procedures have been issued and implemented by each of the regional markets.