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Siemens USA CEO wants to improve digital infrastructure

Siemens USA CEO Barbara Humpton says she wants to see the United States get a high-tech infrastructure upgrade.

“While there are people working on concrete and asphalt, a lot of us are working on data,” said Humpton. “Communities all across the country now are able to find ways to improve their digital infrastructure, get more connected across their communities, make better working and living environments for their citizens.”

In an interview with Yahoo Finance ahead of Infrastructure Week, Humpton acknowledged it will take “a lot of collaboration and cooperation” for the federal government to agree on a large-scale infrastructure investment.

“What we [Siemens] are doing right now, is interconnecting transportation systems, power systems. The electric grid is being upgraded all over the place to meet today's demands,” said Humpton. “Cities across the country are really investing in electric infrastructure for charging vehicles. As buses and cars and, frankly, eventually even aircraft come online with electric, we're going to need a deeper, more powerful charging infrastructure.”

Humpton said Siemens USA is expanding its Wendell, N.C., facility to work on things like charging infrastructure for electric buses. Humpton expects to add up to 50 jobs at the North Carolina facility.

“What we're working on now in terms of the electric infrastructure is bringing onto the grid more forms of renewable power. When we do that, what we discover is it means we need new kinds of controls. So the digital grid capabilities that enable us to control and choose and really help drive together all the different forms of power generation — that's what's going to give us the resilience we need for the future,” said Humpton.

‘Future-oriented fields’

Last week Siemens AG CEO Joe Kaeser announced plans to spin off Siemens’ power and gas business. The company plans to intensify its focus on “future-oriented fields,” like electric mobility infrastructure and smart buildings.

“Siemens Corporation will maintain its ownership of the companies that are working today in digital grid, in the automation of buildings, in the transportation systems that we drive. So overall, I think this is a really good move in the U.S,” said Humpton.

Siemens said it plans to cut about 10,000 jobs in the move, but it ultimately plans to add 20,500 new jobs by 2023. Humpton said it’s too early to predict what the overhaul will mean for jobs in the United States.

“Here in the U.S., though, if you look across our footprint, we have 50,000 employees in all 50 states supporting our various customers’ needs. And actually today we have 1,500 open requirements. So we're strong and growing. One of the key things is we're in that exporter to the rest of the world. So there's great opportunity for Siemens USA,” said Humpton.

As companies look for workers to build the infrastructure of the future, Humpton said the industrial conglomerate is investing in its employees to help them learn the skills they need. She also said the company is reaching out to other groups, like veterans.

“With record low unemployment across the country and with this incredible talent war going on for all the digital skills that are needed for the future, I think all of us are really looking for top talent,” she said.

Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.

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