Otis Elevator’s new boss leads with a personal touch: ‘Hi, I’m Judy!’

January 15, 2020, 10:28 PM UTC

When Judy Marks became CEO at Otis Elevator she was tasked with two huge jobs: spin out from corporate parent United Technologies and reinvent the 166-year-old company into a digital technology powerhouse.  

She’s been checking the boxes over the past six months since she took the top job. Otis is expected to be independent of United Technologies by mid-2020. And the world’s leading elevator company has already been designing and installing digital technologies in its new installations.

That remarkable pace of change is largely because of the personal way Marks has won over Otis’ 68,000 employees. She spent her first 100 days as CEO traveling to as many of the company’s 1,400 branch offices, 15 factories and customer facilities spread throughout 200 countries so she could develop a “connection” with Otis employees. 

“I walked around. I reached out my hand and said, ‘Hi, I’m Judy!’ And that translates in about every language in the world,” Marks says with a laugh. “I think if you can connect and your team respects you, they’ll follow you.”

And it seems to be working. Marks says she regularly gets phone calls and emails from employees pitching new ideas that will bring innovations to the Farmington, Connecticut-based company. “I love it,” she says. “And I answer every one of them.”

With 2018 revenues of nearly $13 billion, Otis plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange once it becomes a standalone company. At that size, Otis may qualify for a spot on the Fortune 500, making Marks the newest member on the elite list of female CEOs.

Trained as an electrical engineer, Marks has held executive positions at Lockheed-Martin, IBM and Siemens before joining Otis in 2017. But she gives her father most of the credit for teaching her how to be a good leader. Marks says she learned by watching him while working at his small department store near Philadelphia when she was in high school. 

“I just learned very basic lessons,” she explains, “that if you satisfy customers and you can really work as a team collaboratively, you can accomplish incredible things.”

Watch the video above for more. 

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