Emerson’s Dave Buttner joins our continuing podcast series, 5 Questions for an Emerson Expert. Dave works with manufacturers and producers as part of the Operational Certainty Consulting team to identify opportunities for performance improvements in safety, reliability, production, and energy & emissions.
We’ll have a more in-depth podcast in the coming weeks with Dave describing the process of how the Operational Certainty consultants work with clients and some results they’ve seen.
Jim: Hi. This is Jim Cahill, and welcome to another edition of “Five Questions for an Emerson Expert.” Today I’m joined by Dave Buttner who’s a Business Development Director for Emerson’s Operational Certainty Consulting Practice. And Dave has a project management professional and certified maintenance and reliability professional certifications. Welcome, Dave.
Dave: Good Morning, Jim.
Jim: Okay, let’s start off. Given your background, what made you decide to pursue a STEM-based career?
Dave: I actually migrated to this type of career. My background is in finance and economics. I spent some time in banking as well at Deloitte Consulting and, you know, kind of migrated towards the maintenance and reliability engineering space, consulting space about 20 years ago. Eventually became part of a legacy MRG organization that Emerson acquired back in 2014. I’m not gonna say I stumbled upon it, but it wasn’t necessarily the vision from the start, you know when I was in college or in high school.
Jim: Okay. And I guess going back a little further, what did you pursue in the university timeframe?
Dave: I have my master’s in economics and my undergraduate degree in finance and economics. And I think that one of the things that I’ve learned as it relates to the consulting realm in which I work is that it provides you with a clear vision of business cases and opportunity costs, and I think that helps you from a business development standpoint to help articulate that to our customers. I like to think that it is actually a very helpful skill, you know, beyond engineering skills.
Jim: Well I think you’re right. I think people talk about how difficult it is to justify the projects and be able to make sure their project gets done and being able to talk in an economic sense to get the capital approved to be able to do it is incredibly important. I guess in that role with that kind of background, that really helps the people you work with get their projects scoped and done.
Dave: I would say to our team that whether we are drafting or writing a business case for a client or not, there is gonna be a business case whether we see it or are involved in it and if we have a chance to help frame the business case, I think that that provides a lot of value to our customers, whether we, you know, we get the business or not.
Jim: Okay. Tell us about a recent challenge that you’ve been working on to solve.
Dave: One of the areas where we help our clients is we help them migrate to a new enterprise asset management platform or sometimes referred to as Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) or EAM [enterprise asset management] platforms. And we’re wrapping up a project for a power generation company, an international power generation company where they had a business unit where they wanted to migrate them to an SAP PM platform from a legacy platform and they needed to do it rather rapidly.
And we have had some rather unique skills in terms of master data migration and enhancement and we beat out one of the big four consulting firms and you know, they’ve been very happy with our work. But I will tell you that that six months project has had a lot of pressure and literally it took us two months to design an acceptable solution. So, I mean that was, I’d say from a degree of difficulty standpoint, above average, but that’s kind of typical because you can have “Off the shelf solutions,” but you have to customize them for every client.
Jim: Yeah, that makes sense. Everyone runs their business differently and it’s not just throwing technology at it, you’re dealing with the workflows and processes that companies have, so I guess every situation is unique in doing that.
Dave: They also have their politics that you have to navigate.
Jim: Yes, yes. So outside our world of reliability and process automation, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Dave: My wife and I, we try to be the anti-couch potatoes. We tried to spend as much time as possible being active and outside. That can range from hiking to skiing to just taking long walks in our hometown, which is Baltimore. We’ll literally do what I call urban hikes where, you know, we just get out and walk six miles through the city. We like to be active and outside.
Jim: I love that phrase. Anti-couch potato. I’m gonna adopt that one for myself a little bit more, I think. And to wrap up our five questions, you know, we’re kind of in this transition where some of us with gray hair are leaving the stage and we got a lot of new people coming into the field of reliability and automation. What advice would you have for some of the people new in their career coming into our field?
Dave: Well, I really do believe that we are in many ways, I don’t want to say the future of the industry, but I think we provide an important enabler through process automation and a lot of our sensing technologies, you know, to help automate the future. And as such, it’s constantly changing. Even if our products aren’t constantly changing, the customer landscape is constantly changing. And so, I guess my best advice to anybody that is thinking about pursuing a career in this field is, come into it with a sense of flexibility because it’s gonna change two months from now. Once you to think you know how to do your job, chances are it’s going to change in a significant way.
Jim: Well, I think that’s great advice. I think the people coming in with the STEM-based background and everything else, just to know that whatever you learn, that’s not what you’re gonna be applying your career. You’ll be learning and doing things all the time, so that’s great advice. Well, thank you for joining us today, Dave.
Dave: Thank you. I appreciate your time.