ABB delegation participates in SelectUSA investment summit in Washington DC
President Obama and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker are headline speakers; ABB CEO participates in top business panel
CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer led ABB’s delegation at today’s SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC. Other attendees included Greg Scheu, head of the Americas region and member of the Executive Committee, top US management and members of the government affairs team.
The well-attended conference drew more than 2,000 attendees. Prominent business heads and investors from around the world with an interest in increasing their business engagement in the United States participated. The keynote speaker, President Barack Obama, joined with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in promoting the tremendous appeal of the country as a destination for foreign direct investment. The ABB team held many business meetings with key customers and partners on the sidelines of the summit, including a meeting with Secretary Pritzker.
In the morning plenary session, CEO Spiesshofer noted that ABB has increased its investment and activity in the United States in recent years not just due to its status as a large and very important market, but also because of its role as a hub for innovation of all kinds, including business models. “So much innovation takes place in the US,” he said, “that we need to be here to participate in it, to support it, and to partner with other innovators. Digital differentiation is the future of our business, and being here gives us great access to new developments in the field.”
— Ulrich Spiesshofer (@ABB_CEO) June 20, 2016
Spiesshofer’s session, moderated by Jeffrey Zients, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, included three prominent fellow panelists: Dominic Barton, the head of McKinsey & Company, Marillyn Hewson, the CEO of Lockheed Martin, and Erez Vigodman, CEO of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Hewson agreed with Spiesshofer’s remarks on the importance of training adequate numbers of scientists and engineers to maintain a strong innovation ecosystem in any country. Vigodman, the head of a large producer of generic drugs, discussed the significant savings involved in giving American consumers access to generics. Barton also noted the importance to the US of making it easier for trained technicians to immigrate to the US. Barton echoed Spiesshofer’s point about business model innovation and keeping up with digital trends. He also pointed out that the average life of an S&P 500 company back in 1935, just after the Great Depression, was 90 years. “Today, it is more like 15 years. If you are not innovative and ready to embrace change, you will get disrupted,” he said.
President Obama, addressing the summit later in the afternoon, emphasized the very important role played in the US economy by foreign investors like ABB. “In the five years since SelectUSA was created, the summit has generated more than $10 billion of investment in 35 US states and territories,” he remarked. Among the cutting-edge technologies he cited were “smart sensors that make all types of manufacturing more efficient.”
Obama stressed that, while the economic benefits of globalization and foreign investment are huge, “it also is a question of building relationships, of bringing countries and cultures together.” Investments across national borders help societies do business together, innovate more effectively, and learn from each other. “The world is smaller than it used to be because of globalization,” he said. “That is because of people like you, and it is part of the promise of this summit.”