ABB has appointed Maryrose Sylvester as Country Managing Director (CMD) and Head of Electrification for the United States, effective August 1, 2019. In the CMD role, she will succeed Greg Scheu, who will support a smooth transition until his retirement at the end of October 31, 2019.

Sylvester was most recently President & CEO of “Current, powered by GE”, a GE startup business that was acquired in April by New York-based private equity firm American Industrial Partners. Having spent her career at GE, she held several executive-level positions, including President & CEO of GE Lighting, of GE Intelligent Platforms/GE FANUC, which was GE’s longest-running joint venture with a Japanese company, and of GE Quartz.

I remember interviewing Sylvester during her tenure as president of GE Fanuc/GE Intelligent Platforms. She did well at a relatively small unit and obviously progressed within the organization.

These corporate changes at the top are not always relevant to most working engineers and managers. The thing I find most surprising is that ABB reached out to GE for new management talent. First, it shows just how similar the GE and ABB businesses are. In fact, throw in Honeywell, Schneider Electric, and Siemens as part of an industrial big five. Emerson is lurking just behind, but it is refocusing. Rockwell Automation has eschewed following a similar path and seems to be in a group with companies such as Beckhoff Automation.

A second thought occurred which is that I’m surprised by a selection from GE given the less than satisfactory fit of Joe Hogan who came from GE to ABB as CEO.

“Maryrose Sylvester brings extensive experience of managing and transforming industrial businesses and of applying digital technologies in industry,” said ABB Chairman and CEO, Peter Voser. “Her proven track record at GE makes her an ideal candidate to run our Electrification business in the US and to be our CMD for the US.”

Sylvester is a board member of Harley-Davidson and a member of the board of governors of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. She also sat on GE’s Corporate Executive Council and its Commercial Council, and was a member and co-founder of GE’s Women’s Network.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee, I would like to thank Greg Scheu for his many years of committed service to ABB in numerous leadership roles, and especially for his strong contributions as Region President Americas, US Country Managing Director, and head of Group service and business integration,” Voser said. “Under his direction, ABB has significantly strengthened its market presence in North America and positioned itself as a digital technology leader among key customer groups. We wish him every success in his future endeavors.”

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