Digital Transformation at Siemens USA: CEO Interview Barbara Humpton (CxOTalk #330)

Digital transformation remains one of the
most important topics in business today, and so we’re speaking with Barbara Humpton, who
is the CEO of Siemens USA. Hey, Barbara, how are you? Hey, Michael. I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on. Well, thanks for being here. Barbara, tell us about Siemens USA and tell
us about your role. Siemens truly is a large and phenomenal force
here in the U.S. Globally, Siemens has 385,000 people; 50,000 of them are here in the U.S. We’ve actually been a U.S. company for 160
years. You’ll find Siemens employees in all 50 states. We’re doing about $23 billion in revenue annually
and, actually, what a lot of people don’t know is we’re a net exporter. For just about everything that Siemens does,
from power generation to transmission and distribution to buildings, mobility, [and]
healthcare, every aspect of the corporation is represented here in the U.S., Siemens’
largest market. The breadth of your reach is actually pretty
extraordinary. I attended a Siemens innovation day, two days,
this past summer. I think everybody knows the Siemens brand
name but give us a sense of the kinds of products and services you provide. A lot of people know about B2C (business to
consumer), B2B (business to business). Siemens is a business-to-society company. Think of us as a large infrastructure company. We’re working on the kinds of things in electrification,
automation, and digitalization that are truly shaping the future of the world. Siemens put together a business strategy based
on global megatrends. If you think about urbanization, climate change,
the aging demographics of the human population everywhere, the expanding reach of the global
supply chain, and then the digitalization of everything, these are things that are happening
inexorable forces moving world markets. Siemens’ business strategy is built around
that, making sure that we bring our know-how in energy, in infrastructure, in manufacturing,
mobility, et cetera to meet the needs of society here in the U.S. All of these different domains that you’ve
described are undergoing a tremendous amount of change. There’s a lot of dynamism in the market, and
so as you see these changes as CEO, how does that affect your thinking and your business
strategy? Well, the number one thing that’s happening
right now is this digital revolution that we’re part of. Siemens has been building elements of technology
since its inception. The whole company is over 170 years old. From the very beginning, the whole application
of technology was to help achieve change, innovation, productivity, et cetera, influencing
every one of the industrial revolutions. Here we are in what we’re calling the Fourth
Industrial Revolution where we’ve moved from steam to electric to automation. Now we have the digitalization where, truly,
the use of data becomes central to the business models and the capabilities being offered
in every one of our market segments. Take any market segment, and let’s take one
of them that typically has some really long lifecycles to it, the power markets. When you’re standing up a powerplant, key
questions in the past used to be from the utilities:
• What sort of technology do we want to have in our plant? • What’s going to be the lifecycle? • How can we get a long-term service agreement
in place, et cetera? Now, we’re beginning to ask different questions:
• What is the future of power? • How will power needs change in this new
environment that we’re dealing with today? • Then, how can we use the data that we
can gather from all of this physical equipment to make our operations more efficient, to
make maintenance more responsive, to increase the lifecycle of assets, et cetera? The application of data to tell us how the
physical world is performing is really fundamentally changing everything. Now, what we’re doing in the U.S., as a leadership
team, is taking a good hard look, getting out our binoculars, looking multiple years
into the future, to the best of our ability, and then asking ourselves, what kinds of things
do we need to be doing today to enable the future that we envision for ourselves and
for this society we’re part of? None of us can see that future for real. Just think about the time since 2007 when
we saw the convergence of the technologies that would ultimately lead to the iPhone. In computing, in communications, we’ve seen
this confluence of technologies that have given us exponential growth and capability. Those same technologies are now being integrated
into this physical infrastructure that Siemens has been creating these multiple centuries
now, and we’re right on the cusp of being able to see that kind of exponential growth
and capability take hold and carry us further into the future. This shift in a business model based on data,
how do you go about driving that kind of change inside a company with $23 billion of revenue
and, I think you said, 50,000 employees in the U.S.? How do you do that? [Laughter]
Well, hey, every corporation wrestles with this, right? How do I innovate while I’m making sure I
attend to excellence in the core business that I already have? Now, Siemens, globally, has established an
innovation approach that is really full bodied. Let me just explain the framework here. We take a couple of different looks deep into
the future. Siemens Corporate Technology, pure research
and development that’s going on around the globe, is looking way out into the future
to determine what are the kinds of technologies and capabilities we need to be prepared for. Here in the U.S., by the way, Princeton, New
Jersey, and Berkley, California, are two locations where we host innovation teams and corporate
technologies. Yes, they are focused on the U.S., they’re
located here, but they’re also networked into global teams that are taking the same topics
and applying them in different regions of the world. Likewise, we leverage work that’s going on
in other innovation centers around the world to bring those capabilities here to the U.S. That’s the pure research. Here in the U.S., we’re doing, call it, $1.3
billion worth of independent research and development every year. Meanwhile, we also started a venture capital
arm. It’s called Next47. Its headquarters is in Palo Alto, California. The team there is constantly scanning the
ecosystem looking for entrepreneurs who are really making groundbreaking advancements
in technologies and capabilities that we think are going to be vital to our future. What we like to do is take enough of a stake
in the company and be engaged enough in their operations to be able to be a meaningful player
in that company’s growth. In fact, I would say the easy rule of thumb
is to say, you want to be the first phone call for the president or founder when they
have a key question. “Hey, Siemens. I’ve got an idea. How can I…?” On our side, what we’re doing is we’re opening
up the portfolio of access to customers, access into the rest of our technologies to help
those venture capital companies of ours really get off the ground and make headway. We expect those companies to disrupt us. It’s what we want them to do. One of the other things we’ve done is we’ve
encouraged current Siemens employees to bring their ideas to Next47, and we’ll invest in
those ideas. I’ve had some cases where former Siemens U.S.
employees now have started their own companies, with our help, and we’re their number one
partner. This whole idea of creating an innovation
arm that can run in parallel with the organizations who are ensuring we’re meeting our customer
commitments every single day is really vital and it keeps us challenged. Now, the key is getting those teams to work
collaboratively across boundaries. There’s this constant ebb and flow where there’s
the actual mergers and acquisitions that bring more capability into the core along with this
idea of spinning out new future ideas to keep the innovation engine running. It’s a pretty dynamic model, and I’m really
pleased with the results we’re seeing. Barbara, we were talking about digital transformation
and the various types of innovation activities in which you’re engaged. Is it fair to say that innovation is the heart
of digital transformation, from your perspective? Oh, I believe so. I believe so. You can think about innovation as this lofty,
hard to reach goal. No; innovation is all about curiosity and
initiative. It’s all about being curious about what’s
possible and then taking the initiative to make it happen. Actually, as Siemens, one of the key things
we’re focusing in on is this whole question of whether or not people need to be afraid
of the future. There’s this fear that robots are going to
take over the world, that automation is going to eliminate the need for humans. Our perspective is, nothing could be further
from the truth. The goal of innovation is to keep propelling
us forward. Every time we take a step with technology,
we’re actually elevating the role of the human. We’re actually advancing what’s humanly possible. You see technology, whether it’s robotics
or AI, as an extension of human capability as opposed to a replacement. Oh, by all means. I like to say, from the first time a human
picked up a rock and used it as a tool, the role of the human changed. What that human was capable of was different. All of the technologies that we’re looking
at right now are merely modern day rocks. These are things that are now at hand, capable
of helping us do things we’ve never been able to before. The question, therefore, is how to adapt these
tools in the service of whatever business, product, or services we’re creating and delivering. That’s right. In doing so, I think we have some great opportunities
right now. There’s been a lot of worry about what is
this going to do for jobs. I want to share just a couple of thoughts
here. One is, I think we’re aware that automation
does change what work gets done; how that work gets done. But what we’re discovering is, with each new
introduction of technology — and think back, really, even think back on the first industrial
revolution — the idea of bringing steam and having an assembly line actually created a
whole new industry, multiple industries, that brought millions of jobs to the world. The same effect is going to be happening now. We may be doing different tasks. The role of the human in the overall function
may change, but it is human beings who guide and envision the future and who create. What about the role of talent in all of this? We’ve spoken about innovation. We’ve spoken a little bit about business models. When you look at digital transformation, what
happens to talent, employee retention, the impact on employees and so forth? [Laughter] Yeah. Yeah, this has been a big topic for us at
Siemens because, while we’ve been this powerhouse in electrification [and] automation, as we
enter digitalization, we’ve become one of the top ten software companies in the world. A journey that began ten years ago with the
acquisition of some core capability that would be useful in the manufacturing process has
become the backbone of the creation of the digital twin, the ability for businesses all
around the globe to be able to model their products, the things they want to create,
model their production processes, and then model their products in operation. We work today with 140,000 companies around
the globe. The question is, where are we going to find
all the talent that it’s going to take to fulfill the need? We’re competing against the top tech companies
right now for that talent. I think there is a wonderful dialog going
on, globally, about what’s the best approach for drawing people into this. I’m pleased to say that I get an opportunity
to dig deeply into this in the U.S., having just been appointed to the American Workforce
Policy Advisory Board by Secretary Ross and Ivanka Trump. I’ll be helping the Administration look at
how do our U.S. workforce policies enable the creation of the opportunities that we
need and enable the readiness of our workforce for the future. Now, my own perspective is that the best way
to learn is by doing. I obviously hold formal education in high
esteem, but the longer I work in my career, the more convinced I am that businesses have
a huge role to play in educating employees and helping them elevate their skills to meet
the needs of the future. In my own case, when I got started at IBM,
they took me as a math major out of college and put me through a training program. It was funny because it was the first time
I’d experienced anything out of academic training. I was actually in a classroom setting where
the instructors wanted me to succeed. I wasn’t competing against other classmates
to get a better grade. They wanted everyone to earn an A because
we all wanted to be able to be excellent in producing software for mission-critical needs
in IBM’s portfolio. That same spirit today of saying, “We want
the best on our frontlines doing the work. Whether it’s in our manufacturing sites or
whether it’s sitting side-by-side with customers analyzing their business processes, whether
it’s providing services, maintenance, et cetera in the field, we want our folks to be topnotch.” And so, we’re spending $50 million in training
annually here within the U.S., $500 million annually globally. It’s an impressive investment to be making
as a corporation and one that I’ll say I’ll be encouraging other businesses to make as
well, as we carry the U.S. economy into the future. Barbara, of that large investment, to what
extent are you having to do things differently or amplify or change the nature of training
given the changes that are taking place in the environment: the technology environment,
the economic environment, and so forth? To what extent is it just sort of business
as usual because we’ve always invested in training? This is such a great topic, Michael, because
I think there’s a lot of work being done right now in the field with the effectiveness of
training and training in different forms. We’ve been talking a lot here recently about,
you can measure someone’s IQ. In recent years, we were all taught to think
as well about the emotional quotient, EQ. Now, we’ve been teasing a lot about, well,
now we have to measure employees’ DQ, their digital quotient, their ability to work with
the digital tools of the trade, their ability to understand how data is changing business
models, et cetera. As we’re reaching out with our training to
employees, what we’re finding is people learn in different ways, of course. Having a catalog of formal offerings is important
because there are people who learn best in those sort of formal settings. Having the ability to form up ad hoc teams
and assign new members into more experienced digital teams where they can learn in a hands-on
way, that’s valuable too. Something else we haven’t touched on yet is
apprenticeships. Siemens brought the German apprenticeship
model into the U.S. out of necessity. We had a plant that was opening up in Charlotte,
North Carolina. We needed about a thousand people. While we got 10,000 applicants, we didn’t
have enough qualified applicants to fill all the jobs. What we opted to do was partner up with the
local community college in Charlotte, North Carolina, and create a mechatronics course
and an apprenticeship, which then allowed us to have people develop their skills and
learn on the job. That combination of formal education with
hands-on experience really is the magic equation for building a capability that endures. It sounds like employee development of all
these various types is a very high priority for you. You seem intimately familiar with the various
types of programs and activities that are going on. Yeah, we’re spending a lot of time on this
as a leadership team because, whether you’re in building technologies, power and gas, or
working in factory automation, this is the number one topic; making sure that we have
the right people to serve our customers’ needs. What’s going on with your customers? We’ve been talking about the changes that
Siemens is undertaking, the business model and all of these various things. But, of course, your customers are facing
the same dynamism on the market, and so, what do you see among your customers? You have such a diverse and large customer
base. Yeah, it is. Where to begin? The customers, obviously, are all on a digital
journey and we’re all in this together. Let me put it that way. What I find is that we have some customers
who are very much on the early adopter end of things. The folks who are opening up new avenues of
business, starting new business models based on the use of data, I’ll call them disruptors. Maybe they’re disrupting themselves and they’re
embracing digitalization and moving their businesses forward. We’re an easy partner for them because of
the breadth and depth of our capabilities. I actually think there’s no other company
like Siemens with the ability to fulfill the full breadth of a customer’s digital journey. Think about aerospace and defense. Think about the automotive segment. You’ll find Siemens working from early design
all the way through to life-cycle maintenance of product lines for our customers there. That’s not everybody in the United States. There is a huge segment of the market where
people know that change is happening and the key questions they have to answer are, when
is the right time to invest? Remember two decades ago when people were
starting to see how they could use enterprise resource planning tools? Well, making a shift into an enterprise resource
planning tool, an SAP, an Oracle, or something like that was a monumental effort. It required an entire business process overhaul,
et cetera. The really cool thing about what’s happening
right now with digitalization is that the change can happen incrementally. In fact, we’re doing this even within Siemens. We’ve got some places within Siemens where
you could go to a factory and see it as a world-class example of the application of
automation from end-to-end. You can go to other places where you’ll step
into factories where a lot of what we’re doing is very much fine craftsmanship, but what
we’re introducing is pilots and projects where the use of data is making even those shops
more effective. That’s where we’re partnering up with customers
and working side-by-side with them. In fact, what you’ll hear us talk about a
lot these days is co-creation. There’s nothing better than getting into the
customer’s environment. We’ve got the know-how in our operational
technology and how our control systems work, et cetera, but they are experts in their products
and what their overall goals are. Sitting side-by-side in that kind of multidisciplinary
team environment is really what crystalizes and catalyzes some great concepts to really
drive development towards the future for these customers of ours. Okay. We have a couple of questions from Twitter. Iram Shah and Arsalan Khan are both asking
about the role of cultural transformation. When you talk about digital transformation,
what’s the role of culture change? Thank you both for asking that question. It’s a really good question. That’s a great question. Yeah, here’s a big question; can the command
and control hierarchies of the past be successful in our digital future? Well, maybe they can, but I think what’s even
more effective is the idea that the future is networked, that teams form around customer
issues and use agile approaches in order to deliver capabilities. That’s exactly the process we’re going through
right now at Siemens. Actually, people have heard about Vision 2020+. It’s how Siemens is reordering our strategy,
as we step into the next decade, for ourselves. One of the things we focus in on is being
very operationally focused on pure play market segments, bringing together experts around
power, around smart infrastructure, around digital industries. But then, giving those teams the flexibility
to form up and norm and perform in the way that’s right and appropriate in their marketplace. That culture of being more networked than
hierarchical is going to be part of our secret for success in the future. The issue of culture seems to come up, in
general, with digital transformation. Getting back to trying to home in on what
is digital transformation, could we say that it’s the combination, the intersection of
business model innovation and the culture shift? Huh, that’s interesting. Yeah, let me trying something else out on
you. Typically, when I’ve been talking about this
to people, I’ve been sharing that I see it as the intersection of the physical and the
virtual world. We’ve got this physical world. We actually make things. We go places. I loved — in the movie Ready Player One,
my favorite line in the whole movie is when they say, “Hey, I love the real world. That’s where you can get a good meal.” [Laughter] There are certain things that just
can’t be done in a digital world. On the other hand, digital tools bring us
the ability to know more, predict more, plan more, and it’s that marriage of the virtual
and the physical worlds and closing the loop between the two that is at the heart of the
digital transformation. Why does culture change matter so much? Well, traditionally, our organizations that
have addressed real-world needs have continued to operate in models that have been around
for a century or more. Then our digital, our tech market has developed
a very different style and even culture. The conversation that we’re having right now
is, “Hey, don’t we want more of that culture inside Siemens?” I’ll share with you. We’ve done some acquisitions recently of digital
companies. There’s that question of, “Hey, how will our
two cultures mesh?” The fact is, we’re a perfect marriage. What I’ve been finding is that our digital
employees who are coming in from the tech industry are just champing at the bit to get
into the kind of mission that we get to drive here. What we do for society really matters and
they love the concept of working on projects that endure, making a change that truly will
last for decades. Then, likewise, are folks who have been working
in the physical world are really excited to see what can happen when we bring more of,
as I say, the agile approaches of digitalization into the workforce. It’s a very, very interesting way to look
at it because I think, at least in the past, there was this kind of surface view of digital
transformation that it’s, “Well, we’re going to build an e-commerce site.” I think, looking at it as you’re describing,
the implications then have tentacles throughout all of your operations, through the technology,
of course, but your operations and your processes, as well as the cultural mindsets; the dramatic
change that you were just describing in terms of going from command and control to more
networked approaches. Well, yeah, and the funny thing is, in most
parts of the customer segments that we’ve been working with, we haven’t even begun to
tap the art of the possible. What are the first things we do? You’re absolutely right; set up an e-commerce
site, become visible, have an Internet presence. The next thing we might do is to say, “Hey,
how can we use data to help us maintain and be more efficient at what we already do?” You quickly get to the point where you start
to ask, “But wait a minute. How could we actually just disrupt this model?” I’ll give you a good example. Think about the way power gets produced in
this country. Someone out there extracts fuel from the ground. Someone else transports it. It goes yet to another spot where maybe it’s
refined and transformed in a way that it’s made useful. It goes through the transportation segment
to get to a place where that fuel is consumed in a powerplant and, low and behold, we get
electricity. Even this is a simplification. We’ve got an effort going on at Siemens called
Gas to Power. If you look at how to use data all across
that value chain, bringing together all of the players, you find you can totally look
at the whole risk equation in a different way. You might be able to make it less expensive,
totally, to be able to get those electrons onto wires. I’m telling you; the digitalization can fundamentally
change how business gets done. You’ll hear people talk about the most fundamental
kind of thing is how to think about Siemens as a service. What if our customers didn’t want to own our
assets anymore but wanted to have someone else who owned them and wanted to have Siemens
in the loop just assuring high levels of performance to meet that customer’s core business model? Well, I think these are all things that are
possible and they’re all things worthy of exploration and where that co-creation with
customers gets really fun. We have some more questions from Twitter,
and so let’s jump to those and then go back to the co-creation with customers because
I think that’s a really crucial topic. Iram Shah, who is just on a role, is asking
many questions, but a really good one is — they’re all really good, actually — how do you measure
the ROI of these digital transformations? How do you balance investment in light of
that ROI? It seems like another very important question. Yeah, that’s a great question. I will share with everyone one of the really
key things is to think about the timescale that you want to look at. Do you need a short-term return; do you need
a long-term return? What your own business situation demands can
help you figure out how to sequence in activities in digital. Almost think of it as a pay it forward idea. What if early work to improve productivity
could yield the kind of financial performance improvements that would then allow you to
invest more deeply in technologies that will shift your business model? There are others; some businesses find themselves
at an existential moment saying, “If I don’t automate, if I don’t really take advantage
of digital, I’m at risk of becoming irrelevant to the marketplace.” Companies like that have to really begin to
think and act quickly to be ready. Now, I’m seeing data from some partners in
our ecosystem. We do a lot of work with Deloitte, among others. Deloitte has some just eyewatering business
cases that can show the amount of gains that can be made from digital transformation, everything
from increased productivity on a shop floor, to reduced cycle times for products to market,
to enhanced satisfaction of customers, the customer experience. There are many, many factors to be measured
and managed, and the fun part of this is deciding, hey, which are those elements that we want
to make factors in our decision-making process. Deloitte is doing interesting things. I just did recently, last week in San Francisco,
a CXOTalk Forum with the Chief Strategy Officer of Deloitte, Steven Goldbach, who wrote an
interesting book called Detonate. Another question about balancing; how do you
balance investment in existing operations, which generate your revenue, versus investment
in disruption that may not have a return for some time in the future? This is the holy grail question, right? This is what makes corporate strategists earn
their keep in large corporations, that ability to plan out a path that actually yields the
resources that will support that future. This is what we’re all working to as leaders
in a corporation. Let’s think about this a minute back in that
context of business to society. There have been a lot of people who have thought
that our business to society message was all about philanthropy; what you’re trying to
do is create enough profit so that you can give to the community. In fact, I want everybody to think about this
differently. Think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs within
a corporation at the very foundation. In Maslow’s hierarchy, it’s food, clothing,
shelter. Does it take care of the basic human needs? For us, it’s integrity, safety, business compliance. You don’t even go into business if you’re
not prepared to do that. Move up the hierarchy and what you’ll find
is that being able to operate profitability is well up there, but it’s not the ultimate
of the corporate hierarchy. The ultimate pinnacle of the corporate hierarchy
is what we give to society, what we mean, what we’re in business for. Every single day, Siemens wakes up focused
on how to bring our know-how in electrification, automation, and digitalization to these markets
that we’ve chosen to serve. In order to do that, we must – we must first
perform profitability. Then we can only use the resources that we
have at hand in order to enhance our capabilities for the future. An innovation plan, funding for that innovation,
that is all part and parcel of the business plan. If you’ve been watching Siemens’ evolution
closely, you will have seen, several years ago, the decision to spin off healthcare as
a separate company and to create a joint venture in the renewable energy space. You’d ask, “Why?” Well, in both of those cases, there just wasn’t
enough corporate resource on-hand to keep us investing at a rate that would have us
number one or number two in all of the markets we’re trying to serve. By spinning out, we raised market capital. We got additional investors into the boat,
kept a majority share, so Siemens still gets to have the guiding thought and principle
that keeps these technologies moving in the direction we’re interested in, but we’ve attracted
a lot more investment into the mix. Day by day by day, we’re asking these kinds
of questions: • What investment is needed in order to
realize our goals? • How does our business plan hold together
with the performance of today’s products and services? • What else do we need to do to strengthen
that portfolio so we can continue to invent? We have another question from Twitter, and
it’s directly related to this topic you were just talking about. I’ll just ask you, Barbara, to answer it relatively
quickly because we’re going to run out of time and there are other things that I want
to discuss with you. I wish we had three or four hours or five
hours. We could just sort of go on, [laughter] but
we have about ten minutes. Gus Bekdash asks, “On this issue of balancing
innovation versus the stability of current operations, there’s a lot of risk. Companies have gotten into big trouble by
not getting that balance right. And so, how do you, as CEO, ensure that you
manage that balance in the right way? Market insight and then biodiversity. [Laughter] It takes a lot; you plant a lot
of seeds to have the strong ones thrive and survive; planting some seeds in a lot of small
ways and looking to see which ones actually will thrive. Okay, that was pretty short. Thank you for that. [Laughter] You know it’s such an important
question as well, and it goes right to the heart of your role as CEO. Next time, we’ll have to explore that one
in more depth. Let’s go on to the topic of IT versus OT because
I know it’s very important to you. Maybe, for the people who don’t know, would
you just give us a very brief primer on that subject and why is it so important for you
and for Siemens? Yeah, IT, information technology, the technology
we use every day in computers, telephones, et cetera that keeps us connected and provides
us with applications that fulfill needs, fantastic IT. OT, operational technologies, that technology
that we may think of as invisible, the systems that run buildings and transportation systems,
energy systems, healthcare, et cetera. It’s often embedded in equipment that we’re
using in applications. What we’ve come to discover is that there’s
a convergence now of IT and OT. We’re sitting on the same network. The Internet of Things is happening and, in
our world, the Internet or Really Big Things is coming together. It’s that convergence where people need to
begin to think about their operational technology, these tools that they’ve been using for environments,
transportation, and energy, that they need to begin to realize that data flows and applications
perform every bit as effectively in those areas. From a data perspective, then, where does
the difference or the distinction lie? Of course, IT is responsible for the setting
up of the infrastructure to manage that data. Is it a matter of which side is generating
the data? Yeah, you can think of it that way. Think about a big piece of machinery with
sensors that produce data that can give us intel on how that machinery is performing. That can flow into an operating system like
ours, MindSphere, which probably sits in an information technology enterprise of servers
and communications gear, et cetera. What we are specifically focused on is that
the data and the flow of controls and interaction with the operational technology that is going
to bring about really dramatic change for our customers. You’re talking about the transformation of
factories, cities, all kinds of different physical environments. That’s exactly right. Think about a future city where your transportation
systems are actually connected in with the buildings that they connect are connected
in with the city services, be they the public utilities, et cetera. Then think about the citizen experience could
be like in an environment like that, a city actually performing better for its residents. Cities all across the nation right now are
exploring just that, so the Internet of Really Big Things is maybe coming to a city near
you. Before we go on to our next topic — I’m sorry. We could spend an hour on each of these. Any one of these, yeah. The last thing that I wanted to talk about
and I’m glad we have a little bit of time for it is the role of women in technology. You’re a really unusual example of a woman
who is CEO of an engineering company; such a male-dominated field. Yes. Yes. [Laughter] It’s an outstanding position to
be in. From what I gather — you know people have
asked me a lot about, “Was it hard? Was it hard to be a woman in a technical field
coming up?” I don’t know that I ever felt it was hard. I mean there were awkward moments. I’ll never forget coming up through the ranks. In those IBM days, we were working in satellite
command and control. I was at this fantastic customer site. We’d had a great meeting. I said, “Excuse me. Which way is the lady’s room?” They said, “Uh, we’re not sure we have a lady’s
room.” [Laughter] Everybody has those kinds of stories
from the early days of engineering. Beyond that, the silly stuff, when it came
right down to it, every time I was assigned to a team, it was a team focused in on a mission
that mattered. Getting in the foxhole with smart people,
using all of our know-how to go solve problems, for me it was just fun. For me, every job felt like the most important
job in the company and maybe the last job I’d ever have. You know, boy, this is the pinnacle of my
career. With each successful role, whether it was
managing a project team, whether it was managing a business portfolio of projects, I got to
work on things like satellite command and control, border security with customs and
border protection when it was just being formed, gosh, biometrics for law enforcement at the
federal level, helping the FBI discover that rapid DNA identification was within reach
from a technological perspective. All of those things were just fascinating
topic after fascinating topic. The way my career progressed was simply by
responding when the phone rang and my bosses said, “Hey, we need your help,” you know,
on project X. In fact, it was really responding to calls
all along the way that led me to Siemens. Since I’ve been in Siemens, as you could tell
just from the conversation we’ve been having, the kinds of things we get involved in, the
kind of difference we can make in the world, this is really compelling. It’s a compelling opportunity and it’s just
been such a privilege to be offered the opportunity to play this role. Did you ever experience the proverbial glass
ceiling? It’s funny because IBM, in its federal business,
got sold to Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin, being a government contractor,
there was a lot of this feeling that “Oh, yeah, we’re in this male-dominated world,”
and yet, Lockheed Martin was one of the first aerospace and defense companies to promote
women into leadership positions. Today, Marillyn Hewson, who will also be serving
on the Workforce Policy Advisory Board, is leading that corporation with strong leaders
up and down the chain. It’s funny. I had plenty of experiences where people told
me things and I accepted them. When my husband and I chose to have our family
early in our marriage, people said, “Oh, having kids, that’s going to sideline you from the
executive track.” I kind of said, “So be it. What I really want to do is raise a family. If that prevents us from being able to be
part of leadership in the future, then I guess that’s the way it is.” But it turns out, fate didn’t really have
that in store. It turns out that, today, people really value
the fact that a grandmother who has the perspective of a lifetime of being part of a family actually
has a perspective that matters too. I think we’re living at a great time for men
and women who want to lead balanced lives and who want to choose. If they want to advance, great. If they want to go deep in a subject matter
and stay in a role and really get as broad as they possibly can in that role, all of
those options are available to us. There’s not a definition of success that is
too limiting, I think. Barbara, we’re really over time here. We’re out of time, but can I just ask you
one more question because I think this topic is so important? What advice do you have for women who are
looking at you and they want to achieve in a male-dominated industry? What advice do you have for those folks? Well, be yourselves. Be yourselves; it’s the best advice I can
give to anyone. Each of us comes to work with our individual
talents and abilities, and we ought to just be feeling the joy of contributing and making
the most of what we are able to do to help our organizations advance. Okay. With that, I’m very sad to say that we’re
out of time. Thank you, Barbara, so much for taking the
time with us today. It’s been fun, Michael. Thank you. We’ve been speaking with Barbara Humpton,
who is the CEO of Siemens USA. What an interesting conversation; so much
insight and wisdom on a lot of different topics. Come back next week. We have another show. Be sure to subscribe on YouTube and don’t
forget to subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll keep up to date with everything that’s
going on with CXOTalk.

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