Succeeding Mr Charles Knight, who guided Emerson to its position of global pre-eminence and headed the organisation for 27 years, was in itself a daunting task. But Mr Farr is confident, so much so that he plans to hold the chair for the next fifteen years.
Emerson has 6,000 engineers today which we plan to take up to 10,000 over the next ten years. We would also like our revenue mix to change which now is biased towards our US operations and which currently contributes around 55 per cent, Mr Farr said.
St Louis-based Emerson is a global leader in providing customers with innovative solution across five business segments such as electronics and telecommunications, process control and industrial automation.
Pointing out that it was important to have a global perspective, Mr Farr added that his goal was to have a more distributed revenue stream for Emerson in the next ten years Asia would contribute 20 per cent, Europe another 20 per cent and Latin America would be another 10 per cent.
Mr Farr was in Mumbai to address the CEO Leadership Lecture as part of Chemtech and Pharma World Expo 2003.
It is very difficult to run a company in todays environment. A CEO must have various important leadership attributes. Firstly, he needs to be secure, keep his ego in check, have a huge sense of urgency and action. The second thing is that he needs to do things differently and learn by listening, Mr Farr said.
The Emerson CEO follows a 15 point leadership attribute regime by which he benchmarks himself. Among them are being honest, ethical and having integrity.
There is no situational honesty. If you make a mistake, you must admit it. The second important issue is developing others. This is one of the most toughest things to do, but also one of the most important, feels Mr Farr.
What has been helpful for Mr Farr has been the fact that Emerson has a history of grooming people. In fact, I still take advice from Chuck when I need it, he admits.
For the first eighteen months after taking charge, Mr Farr spent the first hour and half of every board meeting to develop the organisation structure. We have identified the top forty people in the organisation. Continuity is important. In fact, I find it surprising that a large number of Indian organisations have no succession planning, Mr Farr added.
When asked whether an Asian could one day lead Emerson, Mr Farr said that the Asia-Pacific chief was an Indian. But whoever wants to lead Emerson will have to wait for another fifteen years!