Back in June, automation and information solutions provider Rockwell Automation faced unprecedented changes, like the rest of the world. The top brass was forced to put money saving measures in place but thanks to disciplined cost controls and a gradually improving market environment, the global provider of industrial automation and information solutions has reversed these actions before the end of the calendar year – way ahead of schedule.
The company credits this quick turnaround to its employees – particularly their dedication to its customers, its communities, and each other during these challenging times.
Susana Gonzalez, Rockwell’s first female EMEA President, took up leadership of the region’s business about a year ago, but due to the pandemic her tenure so far has been a baptism by fire.
She describes the last 12 months as “unpredictable and unprecedented” although remains optimistic. “I can see light at the end of the tunnel and the impact of the changes we’ve made,” she says.
Does she feel any pressure as the first female EMEA President at Rockwell? A little, she admits, but she’s enjoying contributing to the company’s culture of diversity and inclusion: “I’ve been really lucky to work my entire career for companies that have these two principles at the forefront of their agenda.”
Susana came to Rockwell from American Swiss-domiciled industrial tech giant TE Connectivity in 2017 (where she led European sales for their Automation and Control business unit), becoming Rockwell’s Regional Vice President North Region, EMEA. She stepped into the EMEA President’s shoes in January 2019 and she’s now tasked with refining and executing the company’s growth and customer strategy, as well as spearheading the commercial and selling operations. In this capacity, Susana has implemented several strategies to increase Rockwell’s presence in EMEA including organic growth, inorganic growth, and developing partnerships within the region.
Growth within EMEA
EMEA represents about 20% of Rockwell’s global revenue, so it’s a vital market. “We have a huge opportunity when it comes to accessible markets,” she says. “We’re fine tuning our strategy from a regional point of view and we have a real ambition to grow faster. In EMEA, we’re concentrating on the technological development for industries such as: oil and gas, food and beverage, and life science. Rockwell is doubling down in its efforts to bring new tech to this customer base through the spirit of connected enterprise.”
One of the critical moves in this area was Rockwell’s acquisition of US-based software consultancy Kalypso LP back in May: “Our corporate strategy is to be more active in growing inorganically. In the past, Rockwell has been a little conservative in this area so we’re striving to change this.”
Kalypso enhances Rockwell’s consultancy services in all regions and also raises the company’s enterprise technology and business process management games.
Inorganic growth does not only entail acquisitions, though. As Susana points out, joint ventures are also important – such as the ground-breaking one closed last year with oilfield services company Schlumberger Ltd., which saw the creation of a new company called Sensia (the name derives from the unification of sensing, intelligence, and actions). “Sensia’s mission is to bring digital projects to our oil and gas customer base, especially in the Middle East.”
Susana explains: “What I mean by building partnerships is developing a broader network across EMEA, including technology providers, strategic alliances, and system integrators. Rockwell can’t do everything perfectly alone; we rely on cooperation.”
“I can see light at the end of the tunnel and the impact of the changes we’ve made"
Rockwell’s five-year expanded partnership with Microsoft is one such example. The goal is to deliver edge-to-cloud-based solutions that connect information between development, operations, and maintenance teams through a singular data environment. This will enable development teams to digitally prototype, configure, and collaborate without capital investment.
“By combining each company’s expertise in the industrial OT and IT markets, businesses can work more seamlessly to save on infrastructure costs, speed time-to-value, and increase productivity,” Susana says. “We are pleased to deepen our already strong, long standing relationship with Microsoft to help businesses accelerate their digital transformation journeys.”
Despite the pandemic, it’s an exciting time to be involved in the industrial sector. There are so many thrilling opportunities like smart cities, personalised manufacturing, the electrification of cars, and renewable energy. All these things can change the world for the better and such customer trends have translated into changes in the way manufacturers produce goods; scores of companies are embarking on a digital journey to become a connected enterprise, reducing costs, and bringing products to market quicker.
So, what does the future look like for Rockwell? Susana says it may be hard to plan too far ahead, given the current economic climate, but the company will continue working to help others navigate the digital revolution.
“Companies need strong leadership, now more than ever, because transformation needs equipment modernisation, process changes, and investment, not to mention cooperation between operation and information technology teams. There’s no need for companies or individuals to do it alone – we are stronger together.”
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