When Eric Spiegel visited the Robert H. Smith School of Business to give his CEO@Smith presentation, he was just as excited as the students were to be there. President and CEO of Siemens Corporation, Spiegel spoke to the crowd of business and engineering students with a palpable passion for his company and enthusiasm for the D.C. region that was evident from the get-go.
“We’ve got a lot of students here thinking about their careers and I have a lot of stories that I think could be useful. Siemens is a great company interested in hiring great talent, and the University of Maryland is the largest university near our headquarters in D.C. We have quite a few graduates of the University of Maryland,” he said at the event on Oct. 16, 2012, adding that they’d be happy to have more.
“Being headquartered in D.C., we have access to CEOs and decision makers, the ability to influence policy, and access to customers across industries. One of the things that is becoming a powerful force in business is the relationship with government,” Spiegel said. “You are all uniquely positioned to find out how business and government interact. After 30 some years in business, I am now getting a full dose of how government and government policy impact business.”
Since starting at Siemens three years ago, Spiegel is responsible for growing the U.S. business in the company’s largest market. With $22 billion in sales, $5 billion in exports and more than 60,000 employees in the U.S., Siemens provides solutions for more affordable and efficient healthcare, the growing demands of cities and the nation's infrastructure needs, cleaner sources of energy production, and industrial productivity. Siemens has more than 130 manufacturing sites across the U.S. and is represented in all 50 states.
Prior to joining Siemens, Spiegel was with Booz Allen Hamilton from 1986 to 2008 and Booz & Company from 2008 to 2010. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College: “I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, and my family always told me to work hard and sacrifice your body by playing football – so I did, I played football at Harvard,” Spiegel told the crowd.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do – I was an economics major and had no clue, so I researched physics and nuclear energy. From that I learned that focus in important,” Spiegel said. “ As you start to project yourself and your career, start thinking about how you can differentiate yourself. It’s very difficult these days to find people for very specific jobs.”
He talked about the positive strides Siemens is making in the U.S., including creating an initiative to hire U.S. veterans and starting a program in Charlotte, N.C., where employees receive a free education at the local community college while working in the local plant.
He also offered the students insights as to what it is like being a CEO:
- Not everything that the CEO says gets done – shocking, right?
- As CEO, you need to set a vision and influence people. You can’t just use you power of authority to get things done. You need to have ideas and show people how to execute these ideas.
- The pressure is always on, the market is always after you, the world is always changing. You are always on.
- It’s a pretty tough and stressful job and I see now why it takes so many years to prepare for being the CEO of a major company. I’ve grown more in the past three years of this job than in the prior 30 years of my life.