Rockwell Automation’s Karen Keegans on the importance of AI and Automation in the workplace

“Creating Shared Value”

Karen Keegans, SVP & CHRO of Rockwell Automation, is not short on ambition. Having joined the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information, she is now out to raise the bar for leadership talent across the organization. In an interview with The HR Digest, Keegans explains the crucial importance of AI and Automation in the workplace.


The HR Digest: Leadership Development programs are one of Rockwell Automation’s core strengths. Can you tell The HR Digest readers more about these programs and how they promote change within the company in practical terms?

Karen Keegans: We created our Leadership Development Program (LDP) to give our early career employees the opportunity to have a career at Rockwell Automation, with a variety of experiences and roles across our business units and functions, and to support our succession plans.

Our LDP accelerates work experience and career development for early career employees. When we hire people who are in the early stages of their careers, we’re bringing in new, creative ideas and unique perspectives, fostering diverse thinking. Through job rotations, our LDP employees can better understand our company, our customers and influence how we work and operate as a company.

The HR Digest: Most people in HR aren’t AI & Automation specialists. But they feel it will soon be important for them, even if they aren’t sure how to get to grips with it. If you had to make the case for the value of AI & Automation in the workplace as succinctly as possible, how would you frame it?

Karen Keegans: AI adds value to the business strategy by providing Human Capital insights through data and analytics. It also can eliminate time-consuming, task-oriented work, allowing HR teams to focus more time on higher-value work. Where AI provides data and analytics – it is people and their creativity that bring the insights that can help transform the business.


The HR Digest: You can demand a sense of purpose at the very top. How do you ensure that people throughout Rockwell Automation believe in the same philosophy?

Karen Keegans: It’s important to make sure employees understand the vision and strategy, how it’s connected to the work they do and that they see and feel that their work is meaningful. Once that is articulated, Communicate, Communicate, Communicate and when you think you have communicated enough … communicate again. As a leader, it is important to ensure you are always connecting back to the purpose, ensuring that you are leading by example.

The HR Digest: When you set out to recruit new talent, what do you look for? How do you retain star performers to Rockwell Automation?

Karen Keegans: It’s important to us that we bring in thought leaders from different industries with different perspectives, so we can execute our strategy. We look for diversity in thinking and experience.

To retain employees, we empower people to do their jobs. We provide them with a vehicle to develop their careers – the ability to move around, do different roles and get a variety of unique career experiences. We foster a culture that’s agile, giving employees the ability to collaborate and make decisions.

The HR Digest: What challenges and obstacles do you see Human Resources Management facing in the future?

Karen Keegans: The biggest challenge I see is our continued ability to add new value to our organizations. As we make our processes more efficient, place new capabilities into the hands of our leaders, and develop our leaders into talent champions, we need to make sure we are redefining all of HR’s roles – so we continue to understand the key criteria and human capital needs that drive organizational results.

This article was published in the April 2019 issue of The HR Digest magazine.

Karen Keegans | SVP & CHRO, Rockwell Automation


Karen Keegans is the senior vice president, human resources at Rockwell Automation. Keegans provides strategic vision, change leadership and development and implementation of the company’s people programs, and leads cultural transformation for Rockwell Automation to support its delivery of the Connected Enterprise.


Whether you want to stay up-to-date on HR news, read in-depth insights on HR trends or find new ideas on strategy, innovation, and leadership, The HR Digest Magazine is here to suit your needs and help you stay more informed.

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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