Retired Siemens CEO now champions STEM programs in the Valley

Despite rising to the top rung of the corporate ladder, Eric Spiegel never forgot his Mahoning Valley roots.

Spiegel, a Poland native, retired as president / CEO of Siemens USA at the end of 2016. But the 59-year-old, a 1976 Poland Seminary High School graduate, said he plans to remain an active participant in the work taking place in his hometown.

“After high school I went away for quite a long time,” Spiegel said. “I came back to visit family and during those visits I saw how the area was going down. When I got into a position where I could help, I said hey this is a great town, these are great people and there’s great opportunity here. I realized the potential the community has to make an impact and I wanted to be part of that.”

Valley roots

Spiegel, a resident of Washington, D.C., grew up the son of a Valley businessman. His father owned a couple sporting goods stores, a commercial installation firm that worked with area schools and a local restaurant. As a youngster, Spiegel planned to go to college and one day take over his dad’s businesses.

“I thought I would stay in the area. It’s where I’m from, where my family’s from, my dad, my grandfather. It’s where my roots are. But when the (steel) mills started closing, my dad told me he wasn’t sure where the area was going, but it didn’t look like there was going to be a lot of work or much of a future. He told me I needed to think about finding a life somewhere else,” Spiegel said.

Not long after, Black Monday — Sept. 19, 1977 — marked the beginning of the end of the region’s steel industry.

“It was a pivotal time for the Valley,” Spiegel said. “I went away and for years, really, I didn’t look back.”

Corporate climb

Spiegel earned his master’s degree in business administration from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College where he was an Edward Tuck Scholar. He earned his bachelor’s degree, with honors, in economics at Harvard University.

He had some 25 years of global consulting experience with various organizations in the oil and gas, power, chemical, water, industrial and automotive fields before he joined Siemens, which produces energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, in January 2010. Siemens USA is a subsidiary of German conglomerate Siemens Corp.

Early in his career, he worked at Brown Boveri, now ABB, and Temple, Barker & Sloane Inc., now Oliver Wyman.

Between 1999 and 2003, he served as managing director of Booz Allen Hamilton International while living in Tokyo and managing the firm’s business in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. He was an original member of the Board of Directors for Booz & Co. and was previously a member of the Board of Directors for Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. From 2008 to 2010, he was a senior partner and served as the managing partner of Booz & Co.’s Global Energy, Chemicals and Power consulting practice and led the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.

Spiegel planned to spend only five years at Siemens. The company credits him with growing its U.S. business in the company’s largest market.

“Eric has grown Siemens’ business and furthered our reputation in the U.S. as a critical contributor to the country’s economic, manufacturing and innovation engines, and we thank him for his leadership,” said Lisa Davis, who leads the company’s global energy operations from its oil and gas headquarters in Houston.

Growing STEM

Spiegel co-wrote the 2009 book “Energy Shift: Game-changing Options for Fueling the Future.” Recognized as an energy expert, he has fostered local STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educational opportunities through his affiliation with Siemens.

Siemens has been in the U.S. for more than 160 years and has invested $35 billion in America in the last 15 years. Siemens USA boasts $22.4 billion in sales including $5.5 billion exports and employs some 50,000 people in the U.S.

Siemens has contributed millions of dollars to the Valley.

For example, Spiegel visited Youngstown State University in 2013 to announce a $440 million in-kind grant from Siemens for the university’s STEM College. Spiegel said the software grant was one of largest Siemens has ever given.

At the time, Cynthia Anderson, who then was YSU president, said the software placed the university “at the global forefront of both industry and academia.”

“The best part about (Spiegel) is that here he is the CEO of this huge company but he’s still this down to earth guy from the Valley and he’s never forgotten where he came from,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland. “When it comes to our area, that’s one thing we all respect more than anything. We root for you to be successful, just don’t forget ever about us or your roots. And he hasn’t.”

Siemens is also a primary investor in the Lordstown Energy Center under construction along Henn Parkway and is manufacturing the gas and steam turbines for the $900 million facility. Recently, it was announced Siemens would also be partnering with Clean Energy Future for the proposed Trumbull Energy Center. If all goes as planned, the twin facilities will stand next to each other.

Spiegel said although he has had dealings with the two projects, he has not been directly involved. Even so, developer Bill Siderewicz credited Spiegel for understanding the importance of education and how each energy center can be a “cornerstone for education/career planning” when working with YSU and area schools.

Spiegel, who has spent some time teaching at Dartmouth and Northwestern, said he would also like to teach at YSU.

He said he will continue to be involved with Siemens. He serves on the Liberty Mutual Board of Directors and there’s a likelihood he will serve on other boards as well.

He is also looking at pursuing equity investments “particular around energy.”

Spiegel said he sees Marcellus and Utica shale play and additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, as areas in which the Valley can excel.

“I see it as another, or second chance, for the Valley, to make great contributions,” he said. “There needs to be more involvement in these areas.”

“I enjoy Youngstown. I enjoy coming home to visit. I have a lot of friends in area and I love to finds ways to come back and do anything I can for the area,” he said. “Helping young people, working to bring more businesses back into the Youngstown area.

“Every area, each city has its strengths and challenges. I just want to do what I can, do my part, to see the (Mahoning) Valley thrive.”