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Cover art for the podcast "Executive Decisions: A Podcast for Business Leaders." It shows a woman smiling, wearing a yellow top, with arrow designs in the background. Text includes "EP23 Dionna Topps James.

Cultivating Diverse Leaders and Inclusive Culture with Dionna Topps James

Dionna has been with Whirlpool Corporation for 15 years and currently leads the Whirlpool Sales Enablement Team as well as being the Chief of Staff for the Sales SVP.  She is responsible for creating strategies and experiences to enable profitable sales growth for both Whirlpool and its Trade Customers. Dionna has held various positions with escalating responsibility within training, operations, sales and merchandising. As an accomplished sales leader she has been awarded National Sales Manager of the year and has delivered record breaking profitable growth in each of her respective role scopes. An active leader within inclusion and diversity, Dionna has also led FOCUS, the African American Resource Group, through strategic shifts that helped influence Whirlpool Corporation’s first ever Pledge to Black Colleagues in 2020. Dionna is a native of South Bend, IN. She graduated with a B.S. from Purdue University and received her Masters of Business Administration from The University of Notre Dame (Go Irish)!


This podcast shines light on Dionna’s career journey and experience as an African American woman in leadership. Dionna shares with the audience her early career, mentors who helped her develop confidence, navigating being underrepresented in her roles, and her work advancing diversity and inclusion at Whirlpool. She also discussed her approach to developing leaders on her team and work-life balance. Sarah and Dionna covered a range of personal and professional topics in this thought provoking discussion about Dionna’s pathbreaking career.


“You can be anything you want to be. And no one told me that I couldn’t. But no one had said that I could.” – Dionna Topps James


This week on Executive Decisions:

  • Self-doubt and leadership growth.
  • Leadership evolution and encouraging younger professionals to speak up.
  • Diversity and representation in the workplace.
  • Diversity and inclusion in leadership roles.
  • Leadership development and team building.
  • Hiring and evaluating leaders based on character and work ethic.
  • Career advancement and mentorship in a corporate setting.
  • Mentorship and personal branding.
  • Work-life balance and personal interests with a busy woman leader.


Our Favorite Quotes:


  • “I want to be a business leader. Yes, I’m a black woman. But you don’t have to be the black woman business leader.” – Dionna Topps James
  • “I believe it’s my responsibility, given the opportunity that I have now, to make sure that I’m clearing the path, and enabling others that look like me to be in rooms that they’re not in.” – Dionna Topps James
  • “Hire the person and the core values of that person because you can teach the job, you can teach the nuances inside the organization. But you can’t teach people to be good humans.” – Sarah Delahanty
  • “You sort of have to go first and be vulnerable, which can be a heavy burden. But in my experience, it’s all been worth it.” – Dionna Topps James


Connect with Dionna:



About SYM Financial and Executive Decisions Podcast


Executive Decisions is a show for business leaders. In each episode, host and financial advisor Sarah Delahanty sits down with executives and local experts who serve them. Together, they tackle some of the harder questions that business leaders face today. From inspiring creativity in the workplace, to managing company politics, to making the best choices with executive compensation, taxes, and lifestyle — our show delivers stories and lessons learned across many industries and lifetimes.


Email Sarah at sdelahanty@sym.com with questions, comments, and to schedule a one-on-one conversation.


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Disclosure: Certain links above are to third-party sites and are not affiliated with SYM Financial Corporation (“SYM”). SYM is an independent investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about SYM including our investment strategies, fees and objectives can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available upon request.

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