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Berra, Sonnenberg View the Future

Following the announcement of management changes at Emerson Process Management on Monday, Chairman John Berra and Business Leader Steve Sonnenberg met with editors of Automation World magazine to discuss the future of Emerson Process Management, as well as technologies and markets, for this edition of Exchange Today.

John Berra, (right) Chairman, Emerson Process Management and Steve Sonnenberg, (left) Executive Vice President, Emerson and Busi
John Berra, (right) Chairman, Emerson Process Management and Steve Sonnenberg, (left) Executive Vice President, Emerson and Busi
Editors: John, what will be your role in the new structure?
John Berra: We’re in a strong financial position and it seemed to be time to change and focus on different things. I’m still mapping out what the position will look like. I have strong customer ties and want to continue working with those customers. I have been the technology lead in addition to my responsibilities as a line officer, so now I’d like to shape the technologies for success. I’ll work on the acquisition side, too. The current economic climate may be the right strategic time to act on acquisitions. Valuations are becoming favorable, plus Emerson has a strong financial position.

Steve Sonnenberg: By the way, Emerson would have preferredfor John to stay on for a while longer.
Berra: Yes, this was my decision. I just thought it was time to effect the transition.

Editors: Peter Zornio is the Chief Strategic Officer. Will there be any conflict with the positions?
Berra: Peter will still be working as CSO, and we shouldn’t get into each other’s way. There are many things for both of us to work on. Besides, Peter brings an understanding of the market to us and can help orchestrate the marketing side.

Editors: What about some of your roles beyond Emerson Process?
Berra: I’ll still be working with the Fieldbus Foundation and will be an advisory member of the board of Emerson Electric Co.

Editors: Steve, what are your immediate plans as you assume operating responsibility for the company?
Sonnenberg: I’d like to grow the company another billion dollars next year like John did this year. I just want to make sure resources are in place to implement our strategy and continue to innovate. I want to keep the quality up. It will be important to continue to operate globally.

Berra: Steve’s significant global experience will be an important factor in his success.

Editors: Where do you see market opportunities for growth in the next few years?
Sonnenberg: We see opportunities in the Middle East. We’re going to open an office in Dubai. We’re also investing in China and adding a service center in Singapore. It’s interesting that the life sciences companies have targeted Singapore—and not just for engineering, but for manufacturing as well. India is now really ready for business. Other markets we see growth in are oil & gas, coal gasification, petrochem, alternative energies such as biomass, and CNG. We also see an uptick in nuclear. We’ve maintained our investment in valves and instrumentation as well as our relationship with the former Westinghouse controls systems supplier.

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