Judy Marks Leads Otis Elevator On A Tech-Fueled Quest For Growth

Otis Elevator’s products made the leap from human operators to automation decades ago, now it’s ready for its next lift: A.I. capabilities—and being spun out by United Technologies. Judy Marks shares her plan to lead the 166-year-old company into a technology-forged future.

How do you foster a culture of embracing that kind of radical change across an employee base of 68,000?

Change is hard in any industry. It’s all about building a culture where change is consistent, where you’re communicating effectively, and where people buy in and are part of the change agents.

We have mechanics of all ages. We have Millennial mechanics who come out of the apprentice program. We have “perennials,” mechanics who are at the latter end of their career but who have the knowledge base to really understand the nuances of some of our customers and the install base. You have to think what’s the best way to share information with everyone. Everyone learns in different ways. There are lots of tools. We use Yammer. It’s very effective.

What does innovation look like for a company like Otis?

We’re proud of the iconic buildings, like the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower and the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, that we’re in.

But at the end of the day, the majority of the buildings we both serve and service are mid-rise office buildings, schools, churches. So we have to basically serve an entire community, from the most exacting high-rise customer to a school board.

If you’re a developer in New York, the last thing you want is to give up some of your space for elevators or anything else that you can’t rent or sell, so the optimization is getting more people safely in smaller spaces and moving them more efficiently. The developers and the architect want that. Then general contractors who contract with us really only care about two things: cost and schedule. Will you be done on time, and will you hit the cost you committed to?

The equipment market is just under a million elevator units sold a year. We’ve got about 17 percent market share in that. So we have to appeal to lots of different communities with lots of different needs all happening simultaneously in every metropolitan city in the world.

On the service side, we are a logistics company. We have to get parts to the right place at the right time everywhere on the globe. And if we replace an escalator or an elevator already in a building, we need to do it in the most rapid, least intrusive way we can without stopping movement. And the two million portfolio we manage is not all Otis. So we do that for other people’s equipment as well.

How do you set the bar for accomplishing that across all of your branches?

A few ways. We have a common set of KPIs we use across the globe because the product is relatively standard and the service we provide needs to live up to those service standards. So we measure every branch the same way, whether they’re doing new equipment or they’re doing service.

Also, even though English is the language of our company, we have everything translated into 23 languages. We make every message native, and we make it local.
We also have a translate button on Yammer, an internal social network where we share best practices. When people post in, say Mandarin or Portuguese, you can just hit translate and it reads right out.

We started a program called “Do the Right Thing” to celebrate people doing what’s right. That’s important when you’re doing business in as many countries as we are because you have to make sure you’re doing business in a clean, compliant way. Even today there are still some countries that do business in cash and no matter how hard you work on ethics and integrity, people can get tempted.

So once a month we go out to wherever they are—Indonesia, Mexico, Asia—and we celebrate and revel in employees who actually were tempted and did the right thing.

Where do you see growth coming from for Otis now? How do faster, better, smarter maintenance, installs, innovation all come together as growth-drivers?

When you look macroeconomics across the globe, we’re a GDP kind of business. There are about 15.5 million elevators in the world today and we’re adding 900,000 every year, which will grow at GDP and GDP-plus for the service side of the business. We believe elevators will stay pretty stable in terms of new equipment. The service market, which accounts for 55 percent of our business and has far better margins, will continue to grow. But we believe the whole passenger experience market and our part of being part of the end-to-end mobility chain are the real growth areas.

The question is, what value propositions can we come up with? What business models can we come up with? Nobody has access to two billion people a day. It may be a short period of time we have that access. Think about the value of what that’s worth.

Judy Marks

Born: 1963, youngest of three children.

Hometown: Philadelphia suburbs.

Family: Married with one grown daughter.

Education: Lehigh University, 1984; Earned bachelors in
electrical engineering in three years.

First Jobs: Learned value of customer service working at her
father’s suburban Philadelphia department store in high school.
After college she joined IBM and landed her first management job
at 23 after three years with the company.

Career Highlights: Named President, Otis in 2017; Prior: CEO
of Siemens USA, Jan-Oct 2017, EVP, Global Solutions at Dresser-
Rand from 2015-2016; President and CEO of Siemens Government
Technologies from 2011-2015 and President of two different
businesses at Lockheed Martin, which she joined after her IBM
division was acquired by Loral and then Lockheed Martin.

Other: Director of Hubbell; Board of Visitors for the University
of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural
Sciences. In 2017, named to the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in
Technology and received the Excellence in Leadership Award from
the International Society of Automation.
Very Social: Active LinkedIn Influencer with 320,000 followers.

Read more: How To Stop Inefficiency From Sinking Your Business

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