Gary J. Wilhelmi [Vice President, Dallas Branch]

Gary Wilhelmi
For over 30 years, Gary Wilhelmi, who is an electrical engineer by training, has been involved with the development of new and innovative products. His experience includes development work in such areas as high tech laser and optical systems, first generation fiber optics communication systems, biotechnology innovation, and consumer products development, which has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. In his career, he has successfully developed and implemented innovation breakthroughs using internal organizational resources, as well as creating virtual R&D organizations using external resources. This experience provides a unique insight into what is required to create and sustain innovation in today’s rapidly changing world.

As a manager of innovation and development, he has consistently created environments within which his teams have been able to leverage individual differences that fostered high levels of individual interaction, trust and support. Through these experiences, he has developed a number of successful approaches and unique tools to allow organizations and individuals to understand those invisible attributes within an organization that ultimately become either key drivers or inhibitors of successful innovation.

Early in his career as an electrical engineer at the McDonnell Air Craft Company, Gary recognized the importance of pattern recognition in the discovery process. Whether associated with developing laser target identification systems or understanding the dynamics behind personal behavior, Gary has always believed that being able to identify the underlying patterns is the crucial first step towards discovering and leveraging new knowledge. Through this identification and understanding the visible and invisible patterns within organizations – the interactions between business, technology and people – he has been able to guide his teams to characterize, leverage, and then convert new ideas into successful innovations.

When presented with the opportunity to be part of a small start-up organization during the early years of fiber optic communications, Gary immediately joined the team at ITT Electro-Optics Products Division. His technical and organizational understanding helped him successfully direct the development and installation of the first operational fiber optic system installed at the National Security Agency’s Headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland and subsequent systems around the world. His understanding of fiber optics and systems integration led to the development of several other unique systems for the different branches of the Armed Services. One such design resulted in ITT receiving a sole-source systems integration contract for a fiber optic guided missile system designed by Gary. During this period, Gary had numerous publications and developed and taught a specialized fiber optics system design course. The experiences at ITT further refined Gary’s understanding of the dynamics within and between organizations.

Gary later joined Frito-Lay, where he provided the technical leadership for several hundred million dollars of retail sales through new product innovation. In addition, he led the packaging, sensory and biotechnology areas resulting in significant quality improvements in all of Frito-Lay’s brands as well as tens of millions of dollars of productivity savings in packaging and operations.

During this period, Gary continuously pursued and developed novel approaches for both technical advancement as well as organizational effectiveness. Whether through using an optical interferometer in packaging design, creating an in-plant sensory program for quality, introducing statistical supervisory control systems or championing expanded use of external resources, Gary has continuously challenged the organization to move outside of its comfort zone. This has provided him with a unique insight into the dynamics associated with transforming new ideas into successful innovations. These insights have resulted in Gary’s developing several proprietary tools for assessing an organization’s culture, level of trust, invisible decision-making process, and how well “prior knowledge” is leveraged. Taken as a whole, these tools provide valuable insights that allow any organization to characterize the key attributes that promote or block innovation thereby making much of what is invisible to the organization visible.

Gary and his wife Leeann have four children and reside in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Short Courses Developed and Taught [partial list]

“Making The Invisible Visible: Understanding the Human Principles for Sustaining Innovation”, Creative
         Problem Solving Institute, Atlanta, GA 2007.
“Workshop on Innovation”, Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, NC, San Diego, CA 2006 – Present
“Wicked Problem Roundtable”, Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, NC, 2006.
“Culture and Problem Solving Style”, Texas A&M University, Ag. Engr. Seminar, 2001.
“Leadership Series: Innovation”, internal Frito-Lay, Inc., 1999, 2000, 2001.
“Fiber Optic Connector Installation and System Operation,” Washington, D.C., 1978.
“Fiber Optic Connector Installation, Cable Installation, and System Operation,” Wahiawa, Hawaii, 1978.
Fiber Optic System Design and Component Selection portion of course “Recent Advances in Fiber Optics,”
         June 19-21, 1978, University of Rhode Island.

Contributions to Technical Books [partial list]

“The Invisible Element: A Practical Guide For Sustaining Innovation”, to be Published 2011.
“Fiber Optic System Design and Component Selection” chapter of Fiber Optic Advances in Research and
         Development, Plenum Press, New York, 1979.

Education and Academic Honors

B.S. Electrical Engineering, Texas A&M University
M.S. electrical Engineering, Texas A&M University
Outstanding Graduate Student Award at Master’s Level, Texas A&M University
Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, Phi Eta Sigma

Publications [partial list]

Wilhelmi, G.J., “An Investigation of the Depolarization of Backscattered Electromagnetic Waves Using a Lidar
         Polarimeter,” RSC-45 Texas A&M Remote Sensing Center, August 1973 (NASA Grant NGL 44-001-001).
Wilhelmi, G.J., W.T. Mayo, Jr. and J.W. Rouse, Jr., “A Dual Polarization Laser Backscatter System for Water
         Quality Studies,” EOSD Conference, New York, New York, September 1972.
Wilhelmi, G.J., W.T. Mayo, Jr. and J.W. Rouse, Jr., “Remote Water Quality Measurements with a Lidar
         Polarimeter, “Laser and Unconventional Optics Journal, 43 (1), 1973.
Wilhelmi, G.J., J.W. Rouse, Jr., and W.T. Mayo, Jr., “An Investigation into Depolarization Mechanism Involved in
         Volume Scattering,” 1973 International IEEE/G-AP Symposium and USNC/USRI Meeting, Boulder
         Colorado, August 1973.
Wilhelmi, G.J., J.W. Rouse, Jr., and A.J. Blanchard, “Depolarization of Light Back Scattered from Rough
         Dielectrics,” J. Opt. Soc. Am., 65 (1975) 1036.
Wilhelmi, G.J., J.C. Leader, and W.A.J. Dalton, “Active Multispectral Cross-Polarized Target Signature
         Measurements”, Applied Optics, 15 (1976) 1837.
Wilhelmi, G.J., G.W. Bickel, and J.C. Smith, “Installation of an Operational Two-Kilometer Fiber Optic Cable,”
         International Wire and Cable Symposium, Hyatt House, Cherry Hill, NJ, November 1977.
Wilhelmi, G.J., G.W. Bickel, and C.K. Kao, “Evaluation of Single Fiber Connectors,” National
         Telecommunications Conference, Los Angeles, California, December 1977.
Wilhelmi, G.J., et. al., “Target Classification Using Depolarized Multispectral Laser Scattering,” CLEOS ’78, San
         Diego, California, February 1978.
Wilhelmi, G.J. and T.A. Eppes, “An Operational 30-Channel, 2-KM, Fiber Optic System,” SPIE Conference,
         Washington, D.C., March 1978.
Wilhelmi, G.J. and T.A. Eppes, “An Operational Thirty-Channel Fiber Optic Data Transmission System in the
         DSCS Network,” ICC ’78 Conference, Toronto, Canada, June 1978.
Wilhelmi, G.J. and J.E. Goell, “Field Proven Family of Digital Communications Links,” FOC ’78, Chicago, Illinois,
         September 1978.
Stout, T., J. Specht and G. Wilhelmi, “Measurement Technique Improves Metalized PP,” Paper, Film & Foil
         converting, December, 1995.