by Aaron J. Henninger
The School of Business welcomed David N. Farr (’77), CEO and Chairman of Emerson, on Thursday, October 6, to Farrell Hall. Farr spoke before a capacity crowd of School of Business students and alumni in a presentation entitled, “Strategic Repositioning, Change Management, and Leadership at Emerson.”
During his remarks, Farr encouraged students to look for opportunities to make an impact in their organizations, while stressing the value of being able to see and seize upon opportunities as they present themselves. This is of particular import at Farr’s organization, Emerson, which is a highly focused global enterprise that provides innovative technology and service solutions in industrial, commercial, and residential markets.
Farr underscored the importance of leaders who know how to evaluate risk and then seize the right opportunities by taking informed risks. Farr noted that It is also important to recognize that failing is OK, so long as failure does not occur too often.
Large organizations and their leaders, according to Farr, are looking for individuals to “raise their hand.” Volunteering and getting engaged is of tremendous value to both the organization and the individual employee’s success. This willingness to volunteer and be engaged is something Farr credits to his success in the early stages of his career. By being willing to take on additional roles within the organization, he was able to signal to his leadership his dedication and value to the organization.
“It was a privilege to hear from Mr. Farr today, it was quite an impactful experience,” said Kiara L. Suggs (MA ’17).
Since becoming CEO, Farr has put a priority on creating long-term value for shareholders and investing for long-term growth while maintaining the company’s solid financial performance relative to earnings, cash flow, and return on capital. Emerson is one of a handful of companies with nearly 60 consecutive years of increasing dividends to its shareholders.
In 2015, Emerson had global sales of more than $22 billion, with international destination sales representing 56 percent of that total.