Andrew DeGuire is the vice president of Strategy and Acquisitions at Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI), the $28 billion company that specializes in energy retrofits for commercial office buildings while helping businesses shrink their environmental footprint and lower their electricity bills. Clients of the Milwaukee-based company include the Empire State Building, the Shanghai World Financial Center, and thousands of school districts, hospitals, and local governments all over the world.
"Lighting and HVAC make up 80 percent of a building's energy use. In the case of the Empire State, we're helping reduce that by 38 percent," says DeGuire. "I always wanted to work for a company that did something to help the world. When I first learned about JCI, I thought, ‘There's a company I believe in.' Things like the triple bottom line, sustainable business practices, and fiscal responsibility are ingrained in JCI's culture."
DeGuire was first exposed to these ideas as a student at the Lemberg Graduate School of International Economics and Finance, now Brandeis International Business School. "Being there in the early days, you could really have a say in shaping the program," he says. "Many things have changed, and some things haven't. Even then it was clear from the moment you walked through the doors that Brandeis was designed as an international school. It looked like the United Nations. That's still true today."
His most vivid memories of Brandeis IBS involve his international classmates. He recalls, for instance, a lively classroom discussion about the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, once one of the largest private banks in the world. "We had people from all the major countries where the bank operated talking about the impact of its collapse, and what it meant to the markets in London, Singapore, and Middle East. It wasn't just a theoretical conversation."
Since graduation, DeGuire has had a varied career which has included serving as a management consultant at the Monitor Group in Cambridge, working at a technology start-up, eMaven, during the dotcom boom, and a stint at a paper equipment maker.
He joined JCI in 2002, and today he manages the strategic planning and acquisitions processes as well as the internal consulting team. He and his team have executed over $4 billion in transactions in sectors ranging from HVAC equipment to software to services to distribution.
President Obama's economic stimulus plan, which included tens of billions of dollars to rebuild the electricity industry in the US into a greener enterprise, has meant big things for JCI. "When we first saw the legislation coming, we put together a 60-person team to look at where the money would flow, and potential projects where we could help," says DeGuire. "It is like we have been waiting 120 years for this moment."