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The Optimistic Outlook

Technology Podcasts

On The Optimistic Outlook, Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA, engages listeners with discussions on the future of essential fields such as energy, manufacturing, and transportation. She not only examines tough problems, but also offers solutions based on readily available technologies. Barbara’s visionary perspective is designed to spark bold thinking among listeners, urging them to innovate towards a sustainable and eco-friendly future.


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On The Optimistic Outlook, Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA, engages listeners with discussions on the future of essential fields such as energy, manufacturing, and transportation. She not only examines tough problems, but also offers solutions based on readily available technologies. Barbara’s visionary perspective is designed to spark bold thinking among listeners, urging them to innovate towards a sustainable and eco-friendly future.




Optimistic Insights: The Industrial Metaverse and a new era of factory floor collaboration

Can the future of manufacturing be almost like playing a video game? In this Optimistic Insights episode, Barbara looks back to CES in January and presents Siemens’ vision for the Industrial Metaverse, breaking down Siemens AG CEO Roland Busch’s keynote speech. Prepare to learn about the key building blocks for making the industrial metaverse a reality, including digital twins, and the world-changing potential for combining the real and virtual worlds in industry, infrastructure, and transportation. Show notes: CES keynote: Report with MIT:


Democratizing industrial technologies: the factory tools driving a more sustainable, resilient, equitable future

Digital innovation is no longer limited to Silicon Valley. Some of the most exciting, and potentially world-changing, developments are happening in manufacturing plants across America as industrial automation systems interact with software and AI. What is the vision for applying tools that first emerged in consumer sectors in American industry? And what could the benefits be beyond forging an even more competitive, stronger U.S. manufacturing sector? To learn more, Barbara sits down with Del Costy, who leads Siemens’ work providing industrial technologies to U.S. manufacturers and the federal government. Listen to hear Del’s perspective, drawn from decades of industry experience, as he reflects on the changes he has seen during his career, including how platforms are democratizing advanced and emerging technologies. Siemens Xcelerator: Virtual PLC: Metaverse demo and FREYR partnership:


Optimistic Insights: The Unexpected Resurgence of American Manufacturing

For decades, American manufacturing shifted to other countries. Now, it’s growing again in the United States. To launch a new “Optimistic Insights” series, Barbara outlines the trends such as emerging technologies and what she calls “glocalization” that are driving American manufacturing’s resurgence. This episode will help listeners to understand the convergence between the tech economy and American industry. Explore the bright future ahead for workers eager to help American manufacturing lead the way in innovation, sustainability and prosperity. Show notes: Investing in American manufacturing: Industrial technologies expanding what’s humanly possible:


Gen Z and the power of multigenerational teams

Older generations have often misunderstood younger generations. And yet, as the U.S. workforce ages, the value of multigenerational teams will continue to grow. In this episode, Barbara talks with university recruiter Sophie Nicholas and intern Adrian Vasquez. You will learn about the workplace culture that Gen Z is shaping and what they hope to learn as the youngest of the five generations now in the workforce. Show notes: Jobs at Siemens:


COP28 and the keys to accelerating climate solutions

Successfully addressing the climate crisis requires significant progress by 2030. Will we get there? Christiana Figueres, a former UN climate leader who led the process securing the Paris Climate Agreement, offers expert perspective, defining the current state of the problem and how we can grow our ability to rapidly put solutions into action. Prepare to be uplifted about what’s possible and to learn about critical climate priorities slated for the UN climate conference COP28. Christiana is a Founding Partner of Global Optimism, co-presenter of climate podcast Outrage + Optimism, and co-author of "The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimist's Guide to the Climate Crisis." Show notes: Christiana's TED talk: Outrage + Optimism: Accelerating carbon reduction:


ARPA-I and the path to greener, safer transportation

Imagine self-healing concrete or traffic lights with “eyes” that save lives in crosswalks. Technology startup leaders join Barbara to discuss breakthrough innovations that could be accelerated by the launch of a new White House initiative: Advanced Research Projects Agency – Infrastructure (ARPA-I). Listen for inspiring, detailed insights from Ginger Krieg Dosier, Founder and Board Member, Biomason, and Angus Pacala, CEO, Ouster, as they discuss the power of applying emerging technologies and fresh R&D investment to transportation infrastructure. Show notes: White House fact sheet: Ouster: Biomason:


Green Radiology and decarbonizing healthcare

With American healthcare representing 10% of U.S. carbon emissions, decarbonizing hospitals and healthcare systems promises to deliver meaningful climate action. In this episode, Barbara brings listeners inside an innovative project reducing energy usage in imaging at University of California San Francisco (UCSF). The solutions will not only help to support decarbonization but yield immediate operational savings for hospitals and healthcare systems recovering financially from the pandemic. Guests are Dr. Sean Woolen, USCF’s Assistant Professor for Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging and Director of the Green Radiology, and Jerry Folsom, Global Head of Digital Portfolio for Healthcare and Life Science, Siemens Smart Infrastructure. Show notes: Study results: Smart healthcare: Press release:


Sustainable beer brewing and scaling climate solutions

Effective partnerships between large companies and startups can accelerate net-zero strategies and even produce cost savings that strengthen the business case. Recording from the TED Countdown Summit, Barbara talks to Maisie Devine, Executive Director of Sustainable Innovation at AB InBev and Founder of the award-winning 100+ Accelerator program, which is building an ecosystem of partners delivering breakthrough advancements in supply chain decarbonization. They share takeaways from the conference and introduce listeners to a unique vertical farming project that could remake hops production. Siemens is a member of the TED Future Forum, a TED Countdown initiative focused on the role of business in accelerating solutions to the climate crisis. Show notes: 100+ Accelerator: Vertical farming:


The real purpose of industrial automation

Barbara shares her keynote speech from May’s Automate conference in Detroit. Show notes: Siemens and FREYR: Advanced Manufacturing: Optimizing Battery Production:


How to optimize for change

Barbara reflects on how her ideas about leadership changed during the pandemic by sharing an audio version of her recent leadership essay, The Greatest Gift We Can Give Our Organizations. Show Notes: Comment on LinkedIn: Art of Leading Interview: Barbara’s 2021 leadership essay:


Cracking the code: How to transform industry and infrastructure

Siemens CEO Roland Busch joins Barbara to discuss “glocalization” and how to scale technologies shaping a better tomorrow as industry and infrastructure become more productive and sustainable. Show notes: Roland on glocalization: Siemens Xcelerator and Industrial Metaverse: Roland’s annual shareholders meeting speech: Rail Manufacturing Announcement:


A turning point for the electric grid

The U.S. power grid has been called both the “greatest machine ever built” and the “great enabler” of our greatest innovations. But can we successfully reinvent it? In this decade of action, with technology companies stepping up and new federal climate and infrastructure laws moving forward that each focus on power grid modernization, Barbara is joined by Karen Wayland, CEO, Gridwise Alliance. Karen is a recognized expert in national energy and environmental policy who has served in leadership positions at the highest levels of government and nonprofits. Show notes: Gridwise Alliance: Grid Modernization:


Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: What’s next?

Clarence Anthony, CEO and Executive Director, National League of Cities, joins the podcast to provide a local perspective on the deployment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With many communities directly accessing federal infrastructure funds for the first time, Anthony outlines priorities for cities, towns, and villages nationwide. Show Notes:'%20efforts%20to,Youth%20Economic%20Recovery%20and%20Empowerment


The power of psychological safety

For the last episode of 2022, Barbara is joined by Dr. Connie Hadley, an organizational psychologist and founder of the Institute for Life at Work, to discuss how to build stronger, more innovative teams. Building on the show’s core theme of optimism and last year’s episode on growth mindset, this conversation unpacks how work cultures rooted in trust and psychological safety foster individual resilience and wellbeing. The outcome? Work environments more conducive to healthy risk taking that lead to growth and more impactful results. Show notes: Psychological Safety 101:


A model microgrid in Bronzeville

Barbara visits a groundbreaking microgrid project in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Bronzeville. Features interviews with ComEd CEO Gil Quiniones and Paul Pabst, who leads ComEd’s Smart Grid department. SHOW NOTES: Video: Microgrids opportunities in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law:


Climate action: how to achieve ‘drawdown’

Chad Frischmann is the co-author of the New York Times best-seller “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.” He also pioneered Project Drawdown and is now the founder of a new organization called Regenerative Intelligence. Barbara and Chad explore how to achieve a moment in time when the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases begins to decline annually and what a regenerative future looks like. Learn about the impact of tech solutions that can be immediately deployed, and the potential for further innovation. Show Notes: Regenerative Intelligence: Project Drawdown: TED Talk (100 solutions to reverse global warming): Siemens and Environmental Action:


Accelerating America’s electric future

Barbara brings listeners inside a United for Infrastructure event focused on accelerating electric vehicle deployment and grid modernization in North Carolina, with commentary from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper; Brian Savoy, Chief Strategy and Commercial Officer for Duke Energy; and Charles Lattuca, President and CEO of GoTriangle, which provides bus services in North Carolina’s Research Triangle region. Show notes: Electrifying North Carolina transit: Volkswagen and Siemens invest in Electrify America: Acting on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law:


Platform Revolution

With previous episodes focusing on the power of new federal investment combined with emerging technologies, this one explores the big, overarching trend that promises to truly change everything: a platform revolution. Following the release day of Siemens’ new open digital business platform, Siemens Xcelerator, Marshall Van Alstyne, co-author of international bestseller “Platform Revolution,” offers his view on why platform models giving rise to the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Amazon are now ready to transform industry and infrastructure. Barbara is also joined by Peter Koerte, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer at Siemens, who highlights how the platform model’s focus on ecosystems and creating network effects will accelerate decarbonization as it remakes factories, energy grids, buildings, and transportations system. Show notes: Siemens Xcelerator Press Release: Platform Revolution: Peter’s article:


Reversing infrastructure’s legacy of inequality

Barbara looks at infrastructure’s legacy of exacerbating inequality and explores a more sustainable, equitable, resilient approach as the bipartisan infrastructure law is rolled out. Her guest, Stephanie Gidigbi Jenkins, is an expert in and champion for public policies promoting economic, social and environmental benefits for communities. Stephanie is the founder and co-partner of Northstar Strategies, with previous experiences at the U.S. Department of Transportation, in state and local government, and in the U.S. House of Representatives. Show notes: Stephanie’s Politico op-ed: Building for a changing tomorrow: Siemens ESG Strategy:


United Airlines CEO on sustainable aviation

Barbara is joined by United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby to take a look back at the first passenger flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in December 2021. You’ll learn about United’s Eco-Skies Alliance leading a shift to SAF, the aviation industry’s commitment to decarbonization, and why Kirby sees climate change as the biggest challenge facing our generation. Show notes: Eco-Skies Alliance Announcement: More info: Climate action at Siemens: Airport modernization: Capital campaign to decarbonize SMEs: