George Oliver

The Interview


George Oliver   

Chairman and CEO

Johnson Controls International plc

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Employees: 121,000; 44,000 in the U.S.

George Oliver
Credit: Lila Aryan Photography

George Oliver became chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson Controls International plc in September 2017. He came to the company, and the Milwaukee community, as part of a merger with Tyco International plc. Oliver spoke with BizTimes reporter Arthur Thomas about the Milwaukee area after touring the construction of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County’s Johnson Controls Volunteer Engagement Center, which is supported by a $1 million, three-year commitment from the company. The center is scheduled to open later this year.

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Since you’ve been here, what has stood out as strengths or weaknesses of Milwaukee as a community?

“I think a big strength is the way that all of the corporate partners engage within the community, the leadership that they provide, working with the leadership of the United Way, truly makes a big impact. I think it’s a shared responsibility. It builds off the values we have as a company, not only being a great company with what we do but being a really good company in how we enable the community to continue to develop.”

Are there any specific things you think the region or city needs to work on?

“I think the city has actually got a lot of momentum. I’m fairly new but I’ve been fairly active with the community leadership and I think there’s a lot of momentum with that leadership and getting more and more people engaged, focusing on what matters and what some of the opportunities (are) that we see as a community, and making sure from a resources standpoint we’re providing the amount of resources that we can continue to make progress that’s needed to continue to develop the community.”

What’s the importance of investing in communities for Johnson Controls?

“For us we want to enable, we want to build a community that not only, whether it be education, family support, (has) all of the services that are really required to drive economic growth, and as a community be able to attract and retain talent within the community. I think the work that we’re doing with the United Way is enabling us to develop that type of environment.”

When you think about where to make those investments as a company, what are the important factors in choosing what to support?

“We support a broad number of efforts around the community. Obviously, education is a big focus for us. But making sure we’re providing the support and services, whether it be focusing on the development of the children in the community, making sure that they’re getting the proper education, getting the proper experiences, and then all of the family support that’s required when families that are in need are getting the appropriate services to be successful not only in their own lives, but also the impact they can have in the community.”

What does the future of JCI in Milwaukee look like to you?

“We’ve got an incredible base here. This is our North America headquarters. We’re continuing to build on that base. This is where we have a lot of our centers of excellence, whether it be technology development or software development. We have our Power Solutions business which is headquartered here, we have our buildings business which is headquartered here, and so that is fundamental to the structure that we have within Johnson Controls and certainly … is instrumental to how we continue to invest and making sure that we’re positioned to continue to accelerate our growth within the key industries that we support.”

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