With the passing of the American Rescue Plan, Brie Sachse, Vice President and Head of U.S. Government Affairs at Siemens USA joined Information Technology Institute’s President and CEO Jason Oxman to record a podcast delving into Siemens’ 160-year history in the U.S. They discussed how technology is helping to reopen America, and why "technology with purpose" is key to a more sustainable and equitable society
Here are a few excerpts of the conversation captured from ITI’s Download with Tech Podcast: Brie Sachse of Siemens USA on Tech’s Role in Reopening America, Fighting Climate Change, and “Technology with Purpose.” Listen to the entire podcast.
Jason Oxman: Tell us how Siemens fits into the tech and infrastructure policy conversations and the priorities we’ve been engaging with the Biden Administration as well.
Brie Sachse: Siemens is an industrial technology and infrastructure provider. We’ve been in the U.S. for over 160 years. When we look at our core focus and where we want to move forward on our policy agenda, we see two main topics.
First, we’re looking at the opportunity to reinvigorate manufacturing here in America, the U.S. industrial base. Second, in the infrastructure landscape we see the opportunity to address climate matters through infrastructure improvements and a good policy framework.
Our work to reopen America a year after the pandemic began is really a snapshot of how we’re leveraging our technologies at the moment. When we look at infrastructure, whether that’s local government installations, offices, schools, universities, or manufacturing plants, we’re asking how we can provide valuable technologies. We’re talking about fundamental, science-backed technology such as air-purification or ventilation strategies to maintain healthy buildings. We’re also focusing on keeping factories up and running with the deployment of sensors and real-time locating apps to keep employees appropriately distanced.
Jason Oxman: It’s interesting that the work you are doing here to reopen America and reinvigorate the U.S. economy, as you noted, is a continuation of the 160 years that Siemens has been doing business here in the U.S. But of course, Siemens is truly a multi-national corporation with roots in Germany. I wonder if you can talk a little bit about how that global footprint helps with your work here in the U.S. on behalf of Siemens USA.
Brie Sachse: Siemens was founded in 1847, as a start-up. Innovation and inventing are in our DNA. The German Apprenticeship model has influenced a lot of what we do, and how we look at technology, innovation, and invention. From a workforce perspective, we’re interested in how we can replicate those types of training programs here in the U.S., so that we’re developing tomorrow’s workforce today for infrastructure, transportation, and manufacturing.
Siemens does business across the world, but the U.S. is our largest market. We’re looking at about $23 billion in annual revenue in the U.S. in the last fiscal year. This really speaks to how the U.S. is collectively a leading innovator that drives global competitiveness, and how the role of technology drives this company’s reinvention. Siemens has become the largest industrial software company worldwide. We’re taking a global perspective while working with the new Administration, seeking global engagement and cooperation with a Transatlantic point of view. This view includes international and U.S. technology standards and the necessary stable environment from a policy perspective to do business.
"We understand that more than ever innovation in infrastructure and mobility must advance an equitable society, strengthen the economy, and sustain the environment. Our work in this is about leading at the core of what’s important—it’s what we mean when we say, 'Technology with purpose.'”
Jason Oxman: Most of our listeners know about Siemens as a household name but what they may not know is a lot of the work that Siemens is doing on COVID-19 response and recovery. Siemens has been very active across the U.S., and I’m hoping you can share a little bit about some of the initiatives that you’re particularly proud of, as the U.S. works to recover from this terrible pandemic.
Brie Sachse: Siemens historically has evolved its portfolio. We’ve been known for lightbulbs, dishwashers, trains, and electrical equipment. People see Siemens trucks driving around, where there are building or service technicians supporting critical infrastructure. Really, no day is the same at Siemens, because our technology, both software and hardware, plays a role in many things, from food production to rockets to automobiles.
The start of the pandemic was a demanding and challenging time at Siemens. During the initial response phase we were connecting with governors’ situation rooms and briefing them on the role we would play in keeping essential services running. We were at the ready on multiple fronts, whether that was the creation of the field hospitals and temporary medical facilities or offering financial support to community health centers around the country. Siemens Healthineers, our separately managed Siemens business, was providing medical equipment to help patients fight COVID-19. Then Healthineers went on to develop an anti-body test here in the U.S., which will be critical in vaccine deployment.
I mentioned earlier our work in the building sector. I’ve been fascinated by the technology that we are providing, to schools and hospitals, and how it can create healthier indoor environments using ventilation technologies or by purifying the indoor air. Siemens USA has been proud of the role it has played and will continue to play in fighting the pandemic and reopening the country. We saw early on, last spring, that there were challenges with access to PPE, so Siemens employees were acting on their own, using technology on hand, to produce PPE. When we talk about this moment that we’re in right now and how to become more resilient in the future, and be prepared for the next crisis, we should talk about the role for digital technology and manufacturing.
Jason Oxman: Really, you’re talking about the need for companies to be part of the solution, and yet we hear so often on these issues related to social justice and climate justice that big corporations are part of the problem, not part of the solution. You’re saying exactly the opposite. Can you talk to us a little bit about how you make the case in your advocacy that companies can be partners to government in fighting big challenges like climate change, and what companies can do to help lead the way on innovative solutions?
Brie Sachse: We understand that more than ever innovation in infrastructure and mobility must advance an equitable society, strengthen the economy, and sustain the environment. Our work in this is about leading at the core of what’s important—it’s what we mean when we say, “Technology with purpose.”
From a sustainability perspective, we committed to go carbon neutral by 2030 and we’re more than halfway there. We’re the first industrial company to really double down on this. We’re helping our customers do the same. When we talk about the climate focus of the Biden-Harris Administration we’re also thinking about the needs of many governors and mayors across the country, and our technology agenda is really poised to support those customers as they look to decrease CO2 emissions. We know the technology is here, so we’re really looking at how to advance and support green policies, find the investment in sustainability, and help figure out the financing mechanisms. Also, we want to find the way to drive this new green economy so that it creates new jobs.
Editor’s Note: Siemens USA is a proud member of the Information Technology Institute Council (ITI). This episode of ITI’s Download on Tech podcast, first published on March 12, 2021. The episode, Brie Sachse of Siemens USA on Tech’s Role in Reopening America, Fighting Climate Change, and “Technology with Purpose” is available for download on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.
Brie Sachse leads Government Affairs for Siemens U.S. with responsibility to shape and drive a robust legislative and policy agenda in support of the company’s business priorities across infrastructure, manufacturing, transportation, economic development and workforce. With nearly 15 years of expertise in local, state and federal government operations, Sachse leads a team of political and policy experts that promote the company’s interests and influence outcomes that impact Siemens reputation, financial position, and ability to operate. Read Brie’s full bio.