121. Hero – Lisa Scanlon, North America Partner Services Manager at Rockwell Automation Transcript

Lisa: 00:00 

So I would have to say it’s to inspire my children. That the work that they do matters, and it can change the world, reminding yourself you’re a part of a greater purpose. That’s my, why? 

Chris: 00:12 

Welcome to EECO Asks Why a podcast that dives into industrial manufacturing topics, spotlights the heroes that keep America running. I’m your host, Chris Grainger. And on this podcast, we do not cover the latest features and benefits on products that come to market, instead, we focus on advice and insight from the top minds of industry because people and ideas will be how America remains number one in manufacturing in the world. 

Welcome to EECO Asks Why. Today we have a hero conversation and joining us is Lisa Scanlon, who is the North America Partner Services Manager at Rockwell Automation. Welcome Lisa. 

Lisa: 00:52 

Thank you, Chris. Excited to be here. 

Chris: 00:55 

I’m excited to have you, so where are you located at again?

Lisa: 00:58 I am out of Cleveland, Ohio. We live in Chardon, Ohio, which is about 35 minutes east of Cleveland. So small town. 

Chris: 01:10 

That’s cool. We went out to Cleveland through the some Rockwell training at their one time. So I, guess what I was in the same neck of woods where you working at? 

Lisa: 01:18 

Yes, absolutely. 

Chris: 01:19 

Very cool.

So we, we love these hero conversations, Lisa, and typically to get us started, we’d like to hear about, just a little bit about your journey to where you’re at now. So what can you share with us? 

Lisa: 01:31 

Oh, my journey. Okay. Um, so I would say it probably wasn’t the most typical of a journey, but I’m getting closer into my career when I decided to go back to school to get my master’s in international business was when I really found my passion in manufacturing.

I loved being able to solve customer’s problems. So I actually started working for a fluid power manufacturer, Parker Hannifin. I was able to be onsite with customers, understand their problems, got to really dig into the different applications that our products were in. And it led me to getting my hydraulic and pneumatic engineering degrees.

And I served in various roles in technical sales to help customers identify their needs in various applications, and then moved into management roles with sales. I loved being interfacing with customers. We had a distributor partnership that we work with similar to how Rockwell works with their distributors.

And I, I loved it. I moved into a product sales manager role with Parker at one of their divisions that made thermal plastics and fluoropolymer tubing. And I got to experience what it really was like to manufacture products. And so I got to understand a lot of different challenges that we face from the operational side.

And I also got to work with engineering to create products that met customer’s need. So I would go out and collect voice of customer information and get onsite and see what their challenges were and why they weren’t able to combat some of those challenges because there wasn’t a product in the market today, and then I’d go and work with engineering to create a project or products.

So that was super exciting. And then I started working with Rockwell a couple years ago and I um, came in managing the authorized service provider business model and how we partner with our channel and distributors to be able to have them enabled to deliver services to their customers. So that is what led me to my current role that I just took on in July as the North America Partner Services Manager. So not only taking on an authorized service provider now, but also our core services and our networks in cybersecurity services and how they’re delivered through our partner ecosystem. 

Chris: 03:46 

Wow. Okay. So a lot of things have been changing for you. So maybe start us, where did you go to school at? 

Lisa: 03:52 

Uh, so my undergrad was from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

And then my master’s degree is from Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio. And then I actually, I just finished a management leadership course at Harvard Business School. From the pandemic, a little unfortunate that I didn’t get to actually go to Harvard, but I can at least say I went online. 

Chris: 04:17 

That’s awesome. Congratulations on that. That’s a big achievement. 

Lisa: 04:21 

Thank you.

Chris: 04:21 

So, you know, obviously COVID has changed a lot of things from a travel standpoint, but typically with your role, do you see it as things start opening up, will you be doing a lot of traveling across the countries in support of services?

Lisa: 04:33 

You know, I think the way we’re able to support and drive engagements has definitely changed. We’re taking a new look at things that we would have ultimately done in person before. We’re being much more strategic about it today and saying, can this conversation be done in a remote setting? 

I think first and foremost priority is obviously our employee’s health, the customer’s health, and wanting to make sure that we don’t pose any risk there. So I would say that some of our more business essential employees and resources are definitely back in, customer settings and getting onsite. And then more of the commercial resources are just learning how to do their jobs differently.

And that’s what my team’s been really doing over the last six months is how do we still meet the goals that we have, right? Still drive to our performance goals and our biggest, core of what we do is driving a services first culture at our partners. How do we continue to work with them in a virtual setting?

Chris: 05:31 

No doubt. It’s prevalent for everyone, in those commercial roles, you have to adapt and change and, talking about challenges, is that one of the larger challenges that you see for your industry specifically at moving forward? 

Lisa: 05:47 

Yeah. You know, I would say that when we talk about services, right? It’s in selling services, it’s about creating relationships with customers and it’s also for us about creating relationships and continuing those relationships with our distributors. So we right now are driving a services first culture and helping you as our distributors develop these services, business plans, and, being in person and having that level of more intimate communication, that meant something right?

We’re creating relationships. I would say it’s become more challenging to do now. I wouldn’t say it’s a stop gap, but I would say that it’s pushed us to really turn on our cameras and do things like this, where we’re going outside of our comfort zone and opening up a little bit more. I think it’s definitely a challenge, but it’s pushed us to think differently and act differently. 

Chris: 06:39 

No doubt. And I you’re all over it. That’s the beauty of like the podcast here too, we get to get these thoughts, these topics out for end users to consume it as wherever they consume content. Now, the world has changed so much, right? Just being able to service a customer wherever they’re at whenever they need it. And, but, hats off to you for that that embracing the virtual, because I think so much can be done there. And we haven’t figured it all out. Sometimes those virtual meetings can be a little awkward, but we’re getting there, right?

Lisa: 07:11 

Yes, but I will say I, I will be very excited when I do get to go back to the office and have some adult interaction. 

Chris: 07:20 

Yeah. It can get to you after awhile. Very good. So how about for the listener out there, Lisa? They want to get into industry. What’s some advice that you would offer up that for that person, that, that may be ready to make that transition? 

Lisa: 07:37 

Yeah. So with any career, my first piece of advice is make sure it’s your passion, right? I love reading about how we’re able to provide solutions to manufacturers challenges, and really make a difference in our world.

And I think that’s why in my career, I want it to keep striving forward of what’s next, what else can I do to drive a team or enable our partners to be able to combat these challenges that our manufacturers face and provide them with solutions. So make sure it’s something that you’re passionate about. Not, all of us have a technical background. I went from having a business degree and then decided to go back to school and get technical. So I don’t think that’s anything that should hold anyone back from their career. 

Um, if they want to move into something that’s more technical based I think if you have the aptitude and continue to push yourself, you can make that shift very easily. And it doesn’t matter what level you’re in. You have to keep reading books, getting back in the field and interfacing with customers, learning from your peers or your team members, it makes you a stronger employee and it ultimately, it will make you a better leader.

Chris: 08:44 

Yeah, absolutely. I love it cause I’m a big reader myself and I found myself as we had these conversations with people like you, you give great resources and next thing you know, my library is growing and growing. So, um, but it’s how you get better that. It sounds like you challenge yourself a lot. Speak to that, that Harvard program. What did you learn there? 

Lisa: 09:06 

Yeah. So the Harvard program was really about disruptive strategy, right? So it’s looking at companies like Blockbuster and what happened there and how you can implement strategies in place to disrupt the market. And when we look at how many changes are happening in our world today, it really provided so much insight on how to look at things differently.

We have a problem to solve for our customers, right? So what is our product or service that solves that problem? And without putting all the fluff around it, making sure it genuinely solves the problem and provides an outcome for our customer, but also how we then take looking at how the market’s shifting and having an understanding of that and are able to change with that.

So we can’t stay in a space where our customers are changing and we’re just going to let them continue to change. And this mainly is for our customers, when we look at manufacturers, they can’t just stay in a space, they have to change with how the customer’s needs are changing.

And that’s really what the course was about is defining what a disruptive strategy will look like, be able to disrupt the market, make a change, understand where the customer’s needs are going to go in the future. And we look at Netflix and Blockbuster. Netflix isn’t what knocked out blockbuster. Netflix just made a disruptive strategy and they pushed forward and they went with change and they tried different things where blockbuster didn’t change. 

Chris: 10:34 

How long was this training? This course? 

Lisa: 10:36

 It was a three-month course over the summer, so it was very exciting. 

Chris: 10:43 

I’m sure it was very difficult. Was it a lot of late nights? 

Lisa: 10:47

 It was cause you still have to do your day job. So yeah, it was, but it was neat because I actually got to have virtual conversations with people all over the world. I was amazed at how many different people were in this class. So I was partnered up with actually someone in Costa Rica that now I continue to talk to with LinkedIn and she actually works for Cisco. So it, it’s very interesting, the different people that you get to network with in these courses. 

Chris: 11:15 

No doubt that is so cool. Very awesome. And congratulations again. And speaking to the resources you talked about, always keep reading and pushing yourself. Are there any resources or places that you would recommend investing time that helped you along the way? 

Lisa: 11:30 

Oh, absolutely. So I would say from like a podcast perspective or videos, Ted Talks are obviously great. Getting involved in different industry networking things like NAED. I’m very involved in the women for industry in NAED and they provide great resources, having a mentor, absolutely, 100% a key in keeping you going and keeping having that conversation. And then I would really say any book by Daniel Pink, right? Drive or Selling as a Human, any of those books that are really great resources. 

Chris: 12:04 

No doubt. And we’ll put in our show notes for our listeners. We’ll put some links out there to Daniel’s books. They’re wonderful. And then you mentioned mentors cause that’s, that is so key to identify the need for a mentor, but also the need to be a mentor to others. So any shout outs, any recognition you’d like to give for mentors out there?

Lisa: 12:24 

So I definitely have a personal one and then a couple of different professional ones. So I would say my personal one was always my grandmother. So my grandmother was a teacher for many years, her entire life. And she was one of those teachers that students from 30, 40 years ago would reach out to her and say how she changed their life.

And she faced so many challenges and she never gave up. And she lived a beautiful life because of that. And she raised me to do the same and she would say, when something didn’t go my way, she’d say “Lisa, put on your big girl pants and move on, deal with it.” She didn’t sugar coat it. So she definitely was someone for me that I always looked up to.

Professionally, I’ve I had my first manager at Parker annifin his name is Jeff. He truly, you know, gave me a chance, right? Early career. He saw something in me and he pushed me. He pushed me to go into a sales training program. He pushed me to learn how to do more technical things when I thought I wasn’t capable of it because I had a bachelor’s or marketing degree but he kept pushing me and it, I got to where I am in my career because of his ability to push me in my early career.

And I would say I have another one at Rockwell Andrew Hastert. And if you’ve had the pleasure of talking with Andrew, then you know the passion that he has behind manufacturing and services and how the IT/OT, convergence and everything is changing with industry 4.0. And just hearing that passion.

He is the one that got me to move over to Rockwell. Just hearing the passion, his voice sounds like I want to work for that. So those would be my two that I would call out from a professional standpoint. 

Chris: 14:07 

Well, they’re great. I loved the personal where you sound like you’re, it sounds like your grandmother was an inspiration to so many people and just that teacher background and being able to speak into so many people’s lives. That’s wonderful you had that, but on Andrew we’ve had him on the show, Lisa. So he is that, that, that passion comes out. Doesn’t it? 

Lisa: 14:27 

Absolutely. At any point in talking to him, whether it’s just over coffee, podcast or in front of 400 people you, see that passion there.

Chris: 14:36 

So did you realize he was on TV too? 

Lisa: 14:40 

I did learn that. 

Chris: 14:44 

Definitely go check that episode out. It’s in his show notes as well for the listeners out there, but we went and my wife and I went and checked that one out. It was really neat to see that story unfold to just a great guy. Thank you for sharing those mentors.

I really enjoy hearing the passion and yourself behind the people that have helped you. When people think about, services or engineering Lisa there are certain types of perceptions that are out there. And this is your chance to debunk some myths. So what would you like to debunk out there?

Lisa: 15:15 

Yeah. So I think for people that are early in their career they just assume that to be in a technical selling role or to go into certain areas of services and industry 4.0 that you have to have this very specific engineering degree and I don’t necessarily think that’s true. I think if you are consistently using your resources and educating yourself and you have the adaptability and want to learn new things you don’t necessarily have to have a specific technical degree, right? You can have a business degree or a marketing or finance degree and use that knowledge that you’ve learned to be able to transfer it into doing something that’s more technical base.

 I would say that’s one of the biggest myths. I would also say from, you know, I am a female in this industry, so oftentimes I hear well, “isn’t that a man’s industry?” I’m like “Nope. It’s not. It is it is definitely not. And we have some amazing females that are leading and paving the way in this industry.” 

That’s what gets me excited is seeing that change and seeing that shift from a cultural perspective. And it, for women that are early in their career, getting to, starting to see that change and that shift and how many women leaders and CEOs there are in different organizations. That’s amazing. 

Chris: 16:35 

No doubt. That’s a personal passion for myself. I have two daughters, elementary school age, and I’m not sure if Lisa, but we did a women in engineering series on EECO Asks Why and we interviewed 11 women, had some phenomenal conversations. It was for the listeners out there that may want to learn more, but I really appreciate what you’re doing, we need more people like yourself out there in industry. So just hats off to you. 

Lisa: 17:01 

Thank you. And to you for keeping that conversation going. 

Chris: 17:05 

Absolutely. Absolutely. So speaking about your work and what were the jobs that you’re doing, you’ve had some really exciting and challenging roles. You’re in this really cool role right now. So what do you find that moment of flow? Where things are going really good. You’re feeling fulfillment. You’re feeling joy. You’re happy. Maybe you’re smiling, right? Put all those things together. What are you doing in those moments? 

Lisa: 17:30 

So when we talk about fulfillment, I mean, really it is knowing that we solved challenges and that we were able to put it all together. When we look at companies and I primarily have worked for organizations that are very large, right? And at times we can become very siloed and being able to put that complex puzzle together with our partners and be able to provide a solution.

That to me is so fulfilling and it really is what designs a strategy for the future. And I would say to the second part of that is me personally, and where I want to go in my career is being able to lead a strategy to, to change, how we’re able to approach our customers and fulfill their needs. That’s exciting for me when I looked at our authorized service provider model that was something that when I first came in. It was just at the beginning, right? We had sold, I think, 10 ASP projects through our distributors. And it just, this year we ended at 660 ASP projects that were delivered.

And that’s fulfilling to me that we changed the way in which our partners are able to deliver some of our services to their customers. We were able to serve as customers more locally, and we implemented a strategy and it worked. And it’s driving growth and it’s driving change. 

Chris: 18:56 

I’m not sure where to listeners are at right now, but if you can’t hear that passion and Lisa’s voice, I think you need to, check your volume cause it may be, it’s not high enough because Lisa, you can really tell that’s what gives you the fulfillment and the joy. And how about any highlights, anything that stood out over your career that you’d like to share? 

Lisa: 19:13 

Yes, I would say it was just recently I had someone in early career, a young female and she came to me and said, “I’ve been following your career. I just think it’s amazing what you have done and what you’ve accomplished.” And she said, “How can you help me get to where you are in your career?” And that for me, that was it right. I don’t care how many awards I get. If I can be able to be that person that you know, other young women or even men look up to and say, “I want to get there in my career. I want that passion and drive that you have in your career,” for me that’s it. 

Chris: 19:53 

I mean that, that’s a wow. That’s the hanging on the rim moment. That is awesome. That is so good. So thank you for sharing that for our listeners. So maybe we can we’ll get off the professional path. We’ll go outside of work. So how about any hobbies, anything you enjoy doing for fun? 

Lisa: 20:10 

My newest hobby that I have just taken on at full speed is yoga. It’s a place I get to take out my stress, whether it’s work or, family related. I do have two small children so life isn’t always, you know, picture perfect.

It’s a safe place for me and it’s one of those practices that you can take it to so many different levels and push yourself and you can continuously learn new things, whether it’s standing on your head or just trying to balance on one foot. That’s become my new hobby and I love it. 

Chris: 20:41 

Okay. So how often are you able to do that?

Lisa: 20:45 

I have committed to myself to giving myself 30 minutes a day to, to practice yoga. 

Chris: 20:50 

Okay. I tried the, I did a few of those at the YMCA here, local in North Carolina, where I’m at, those are some tough classes you may think of, this is an easy class, but there’s a lot to it. Isn’t it? 

Lisa: 21:02 

You got to get into that power yoga man.

Chris: 21:07 

Oh, I did the a couple of years ago the P90X and they have a yoga program of part of that. And you think, “Oh, this would be easy.” Then I would tell you that it was the hardest day out of all of them was the P90X, the yoga program. Maybe you can check that one out. 

Lisa: 21:22 

Yes, I will have to. 

Chris: 21:23 

Well, we also love on the hero episodes that talk about family, anything you’d like to share with our listeners.

Lisa: 21:30 

Sure. So I am married to my husband of nine years and we have two beautiful boys. Hayden is six years old and Shane is three. They are complete opposite. They’re three years apart and Hayden is my soft. quiet old soul loves to cuddle. And Shane is my very rambunctious wild child. I absolutely adore them and everything we do is for them. It’s been amazing. And I think that’s one of my bigger things too is, in my career is being able to have my boys have people to look up to. 

Chris: 22:03 

Very cool. That’s awesome. And so Hayden’s six. Shane’s three. So I’m similar, but I have a eight and a 10 year old. I have girls, but it really sounds similar to me because my oldest is the quiet, the conservative, the caring type person where my young, a younger one, she brings a lot of energy to the room. So it sounds like you’re in the same boat there.

Lisa: 22:25 

Oh, yes, yes. So my mom used to tell me that my youngest was my payback cause he is just like how I was.

Chris: 22:32 

So he’s the payback, huh? 

Lisa: 22:35 

Yep. That’s right.

Chris: 22:36 

Do you have any other family close by the that can get to see the kids? 

Lisa: 22:41 

We are very lucky. We have my in-laws close by, so they definitely help support us. Especially in this crazy time where we were having to both work from home and we didn’t have the kids in school and, they’re so young at that point where they need to be entertained. I can’t just send them on their way. So it was great to have that support. And our oldest actually is autistic and has a severe form of epilepsy.

You know, we have a lot of support from therapists and teachers and things like that. And again, this change in how we do life now has really dramatically changed that, and I’m grateful he’s in school, but that could all change. So yeah. 

Chris: 23:23 

I was going to ask you, are you guys, are you back in school, like in, in in school setting or was it virtual? How’s that working? 

Lisa: 23:30 

Right now we are in a school setting. I think it’s good for the kids mental health. I think it’s important, especially for my oldest. That’s autistic, you know, he really needs to be on that structure and regimented schedule. In all reality. I really think it’s good for the kids to be in person and interact. I think we’re taking all the necessary precautions that we have to. So I hope we can all keep it that way. 

Chris: 23:52 

I agree when our school said that we’re going back, it was a joyous day that’s for sure. They need that social interaction. And there’s so much that you learn from school just by being in the classroom. 

Thank you for sharing what you did with your family. And one thing we started doing that I’m enjoying our lightning rounds, where we just kind of ask some random questions that can be, they could be a one word answer or you can go as long as you want. So, uh, If you’re ready to play the game we’ll jump right into it. 

Lisa: 24:21 

Okay. I’m ready. 

Chris: 24:22 

All right. Cool. So let’s start off with the easy favorite food? 

Lisa: 24:26 

Lobster. I’m from New England. Disclaimer I’m originally from Boston.

Chris: 24:32 

Okay. Then I won’t worry about the sports. I’m assuming you’re a Red Sox fan. 

Lisa: 24:38 

Ooh. I have shifted into a Cleveland Browns fan and that is tough.

Chris: 24:42 

Ooh. Okay. Okay. Didn’t see that one coming, but to each their own. And also once I was at Mayfield, that’s your guy? 

Lisa: 24:49 

Yeah. Baker Mayfield. 

Chris: 24:50 

Yeah. So, favorite adult beverage?

Lisa: 24:55 


Chris: 24:57 

Okay. How about cats or dogs? 

Lisa: 25:00 


Chris: 25:01 

We are. We’re doing well. Lisa you’re you’re all over it. Uh, favorite vacation destination?

Lisa: 25:10 

Siesta Key off of Sarasota Beach in Florida. Beautiful beach, without having to leave the country. Love it. 

Chris: 25:17 

Okay, cool.

Lisa: 25:19 

And we’re hopeful to go there in February again. So fingers crossed. 

Chris: 25:23 

Florida in February that’d be beautiful. Get out of that cold Ohio weather, right? 

Lisa: 25:28

Absolutely. Yes. 

Chris: 25:30 

How about our last one. If you had to pick a date night for you and your husband, what are you guys doing? 

Lisa: 25:38

If it’s warm weather, it would be to take our boat out. And eat food on the boat and watch the sunset. That would be a perfect date night for me. 

Chris: 25:49 

Nice. Okay. Very fun. Hopefully that was fun. I enjoyed it just to get a little insight and you’ve been a wonderful guest Lisa, we wrapped the EECO Asks Why with the why where we really talk about passion because that’s really what this was started about. What drives people. So someone would walk up to you and want to know what your personal, why is, what would that be? 

Lisa: 26:11 

My personal, why. So I would have to say it’s to inspire my children. That the work that they do matters, and it can change the world, reminding yourself you’re a part of a greater purpose. That’s my, why? 

Chris: 26:24 

That was a wonderful why, and you’re doing a great job in inspiring them. And Lisa you’re inspiring others. No doubt that this conversation and when people hear this, they hear your passion, that they’re going to leave with a smile on her face and better than when they started the podcast. This has been just a ton of fun. Thank you so much for being so open and honest too. This has been just, I’ve enjoyed it.

Lisa: 26:44 

This was awesome. Thank you for the opportunity. I really appreciate it.