As president and CEO of Otis Worldwide Corporation, electrical engineering alumna Judy Marks '84 is leading the global elevator and escalator manufacturing, installation, and service company through a digital and cultural transformation. Throughout her 35-plus years in industry—including senior leadership roles at IBM, Lockheed Martin, and Siemens AG—Marks has applied technological advances in ways that better our society.

How might society benefit from more women in engineering?

The real question is why wouldn’t you want a broader talent pool to solve the most challenging problems that we face? More women and diversity in engineering results in more approaches to problem-solving and frankly more success. Several studies have shown that women have high levels of emotional intelligence, so as more women enter the engineering field, this could help advance the next level of thinking for execution of STEM solutions.

As a woman studying engineering at Lehigh, what did you learn about how to thrive in environments in which men typically are the majority? What did that experience teach you about yourself and what it takes to succeed?

When I attended Lehigh in the early 1980s, not only were most of my classmates men but most of the faculty were as well. This was a time when you were mostly measured on individual contributions, and working on teams was in its early days as an emerging norm. In this environment, I developed the courage and confidence to use my voice to collaborate, align on objectives, and bring teams together to benefit the collective group. This has served me well throughout my career in many male-dominated industries, and there’s no greater skill to have today.

I was one of fewer than ten women in a class of 130-plus electrical engineering majors. I never found it unusual to be the only woman in the room. Through these experiences, I learned how to take on risks and face challenges with confidence. And, with the encouragement of others who I trusted, I took on tough assignments, even at times when I thought I wasn’t quite ready.

What is one thing you learned at Lehigh that you’ve tapped repeatedly on your career trajectory?

It’s important to inspire change that makes the world better for those who come after you. Believe in yourself, work hard, and pay it forward.

What do you want engineering students to know that you wish you’d known when you were at Lehigh?

With enough time and resources, we can solve for anything with STEM. I would also challenge you to be well-rounded. Get involved in activities that interest you, whether it’s sports, student government, or living groups. Enjoy your experience, find time for self-reflection, and have fun.

More about Judy Marks

Marks was serving as CEO of both Siemens USA and Dresser-Rand, a Siemens business, when she was appointed President of Otis in 2017. In April 2020, she led the successful spin of Otis to an independent publicly traded company on the NYSE.

She has built her career on a host of challenging assignments, creating solutions for both global customers and government entities, while creating a sense of a sense of mission among her colleagues. A self-described technology zealot, Marks applies digital technologies and actively uses social media to amplify the reach of her messages.

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This Q&A is part of Resolve Magazine's Soaring Together series.