WIS Ask-Me-Anything Panel: DeltaV Technology Group

On April 15, 2020, Emerson’s Women in STEM group from Austin, TX, held its third Ask-Me-Anything panel, virtually! This year, our vision for the Ask-Me-Anything Panel is to grow a career and professional development by learning about various departments through others' experiences in open dialogue. We’ve asked for nominations for people of various roles within Technology to come and share their experience. This blog will summarize some of the key topics, questions, and responses during the event.

Many thanks to our panelists below, our moderator and my co-host Karla Padron for pulling off a great event!

Q: What is the technology group?

A:

: The Technology organization develops new products, as well as sustains existing products, and research for new technology. It consists of various groups such as:

  • Applied Research – Researching for feasibility of new technologies
  • Software Development – Fun fact: there are about 200-250 software developers for DeltaV.
  • SQA & Strategic Planning – Software quality assurance and strategic planning; ensures correct processes are followed
  • Lifecycle Services and Hardware Development – Develops the tools for the full lifecycle of a product
  • User Experience – Making sure the product has the end-user in mind

In the end, we’re trying to not only to create a product, but we’re trying to bring value by truly satisfying the customer's needs, by helping them do their jobs better and helping them to achieve more. We have and need people of both business and technical insights to better understand the world around us. This is a team sport -- even if you’re not in Technology, you can still engage with us to better solve problems for our customers.

Q: Everyone now is working from home, how are you balancing keeping your kids busy while keeping up with work?

A:

 :  I have kids who are 14 and 18, so they are pretty independent, but we still plan for the day. Structure is important. I make sure to ask them, “What are your plans for the week? What are you doing today?” Everyone in our house has their dedicated workspace, and we make sure that we respect each other’s workspace. If you have younger kids that require more of your attention, work with your manager, take turns with your partner to watch over the kids. And remember to keep yourself healthy!

 (Grace): Be a list maker! Create checkpoints in the middle of the week. You can even reward and gamify it. It helps keep themselves accountable.

If money were not an issue, what recommendations would you make to make PSS faster and stronger as an organization?

 One of the areas that work really well in the past is creating collaborative products with the other product areas and business units. For example, if you take a look at the fieldbus in the past, it was never a dominant product. But because Fisher, Rosemount, and Emerson did it so well - if one of us wins, then all of us can win.

On a completely different aspect, because the baby boomer generation is starting to retire, there are a lot of areas with a great expertise that would potentially be lost. Ideally, we would staff up to transfer that knowledge while everyone is still here.

Grace: I recommend reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. We’ve got to find a way to reiterate faster and to get technology out the door quicker.

Claudio: Actually, we need the constraint of having limited resources. If money is not an issue, then I guarantee you’ll waste it. You need that constraint as a driving force; it’ll make us more relevant, and innovative.

Q: Reflecting on your career, is there anything that you would’ve done differently?

A:

Claudio: In the end, it was beneficial throughout the years to look at the same problem from different perspectives.

I started from a very technical background and then moved into sales and marketing. But in the beginning, it took a long time to speak up with confidence. I was focused on very specific things, so it felt like what I had to say was not important. I would’ve liked the ability to express my thoughts earlier. I’ve also learned that sometimes you have to just let go, which is different from giving up.

"When you have your own idea and strong convictions, you hold onto those tightly and you can’t receive feedback. The ability to let go and truly listen, combine ideas, and compromise through collaboration. The more we can do that, the more we can generate value faster." 

Prasanthi: Getting different roles in technology, to get a broader perspective and understand from different roles’ perspective.

Cindy: For many years, I was an individual contributor; I never considered management. When I finally got into it, I found out that there are a lot of great challenges in management. If you’re an individual contributor and are thinking about a management role, I would advise you to consider it. Emerson has a lot of great training courses that will help support your career path.

"If you’re an individual contributor and are thinking about a management role, I would advise you to consider it. Emerson has a lot of great training courses that will help support your career path."

Q: What have you fought for that might’ve been hardest in your career?

A:

Grace: I’ve had to fight for the end-users of the products. Developers – you are not the end-user; we must be user-centric in product development. Empathy has to be your bedrock; you need to understand their pain points and their struggles. It truly pays dividends in the end. Too many times in product development, we’ve built something that has all the bells and whistles, but it eventually got pulled off the shelves because it ultimately wasn’t resolving what the customer needed.

"Empathy has to be your bedrock; you need to understand [your user's] pain points and their struggles."

Q: I find that my questions/comments are often ignored, only to have a male attendee make the same suggestion later, and have it been accepted almost as if I hadn't said the same thing! How do I change that dynamic without coming off as too forceful, or is it something that our male counterparts need to made more aware of?

A:

Prasanthi: It’s a matter of unconscious bias. In my experience, sometimes, a male person would get better preference or priority on an idea. It’s a matter of training on unconscious bias. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Cindy: It’s perfectly fine to let people know that you have been championing an idea before others. You can always say, “I’m glad you agree with my idea.” Some people are louder megaphones than others, and in those cases, you may need to be bold. When you sit in meetings, if you notice these things happen to others too, you’re not helpless; you can bring the idea back to the person. Let’s advocate for each other.

Claudio: Don’t give up. It may not just be male vs female dynamic, it may be the demeanor of which a person is speaking or the timing of the situation. Sometimes the solution is on you or the group you’re talking to.

Grace: There’s no such thing as overcommunicating important things. It may be taking a different form of communication.

Q: Cindy, what’s your favorite thing and one challenging thing that you find about being a product marketing manager?

A:

Cindy: When there is something new that you’re working on, you see it “grow-up”.  There’s a problem that you know people have, and you have a solution for it; then when you bring it to Emerson Exchange and people see it and get excited about it -- it’s the most rewarding thing.

The most frustrating thing is when you hear a need and you think you can make a difference, but the idea doesn’t make the cut. There are simply just more great ideas in the world than we can ever possibly do.

Q: Keeping the end-user in mind, do we have a “real world environment” set up so that our product developers can actually experience life as an operator?

A:

Grace: One of the things that our research team had the opportunity to do to build our augmented reality product was to go out to the plant site. They were able to learn the true pain points of the end-user.

Claudio: We have a few other initiatives, we have a program called Field Time to take developers out to the site, see how the operator uses the product, and better understand how to help sales people sell. We also have user advisory boards. We have also brought in SMEs to engage with developers and to better help the organization in general, even in knowing how to sell the products.

Q: What is your favorite self-development advice?

A:

Grace: Get comfortable with networking. The broader your networking is, the more valuable you are with

Prasanthi: Be yourself, no one else can be you. Grow your strengths so much that people stop noticing your weaknesses.

Cindy: Keep learning. Pay attention to the world around you, other industries, and you can gain new ideas in different ways.

Claudio: Excel at what you do and stay curious and engaged in different areas. You can develop what you do better by doing it every day.

"Be yourself, no one else can be you. Grow your strengths so much that people stop noticing your weaknesses."

Q: How does Jon Westbrock HCD vs Duane Toavs HCD teamwork and do they coordinate activities?*

A: 

*Due to time restraint, this question was answered after the event.

 The Human Centered Design Institute led by Duane Toavs is part of Emerson Automation Solutions (LLLP – corporate group). They provide services to ALL Emerson AutoSol businesses (Final Control (Fisher), Measurement (Rosemount), Flow Solutions (Micro Motion, Daniel), etc. including PSS).  Because they are a small group serving such a large organization, their approach is to upskill and enable the businesses to practice Human Centered Design. Other activities performed by the HCDi group include design reviews and design engagements. The HCDi group does coordinate with the HCD group within PSS as well as other dedicated design resources or HCD practitioners within Emerson.    

The Human Centered Design group led by Jon Westbrock is part of the PSS Technology organization focused primarily on DeltaV. They are dedicated design resources within PSS, and puts into practice the HCD techniques and methodologies through actual product development activities. This group works alongside agile development teams to create products that are easy to use, meet our users’ needs and deliver value to our business. The types of activities that the HCD group has coordinated with the HCDi group includes heuristic reviews, HCD training, workshop facilitation, persona development, design tool evaluations and design guidelines.

If you attended the event, thank you! If not, we’d love for you to join us next time. Please be on the lookout for another Ask-Me-Anything Panel Event soon. If you have any comments/suggestions for what you’d like to see next, please comment below!