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Dave Cote on Becoming a Software-Industrial Company at the World Economic Forum

Honeywell Chairman and CEO, Dave Cote, attended the 47th World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland last week. The four-day annual meeting brings together international business and political leaders to discuss global politics, economics and social issues.

During a live interview on CNBC's “Squawk Box” on Tuesday, Cote discussed Honeywell's transformation to a software-industrial company during the digital age. “We've been building software capability for a lot of years. Up to this point, it's been more of a digital to digital experience. It's going to become a digital to physical experience, which means domain knowledge is going to matter.”


He emphasized that Honeywell is positioned to leverage that understanding of how the digital and the physical connect, with half of its 23,000 engineers dedicated to developing software. “Thirty, forty years from now, everything's going to be connected‚ĶThis century will be just as disruptive as the last one, just in a very different way.”

In an interview with Yahoo! Finance on Wednesday, Cote emphasized that the “interaction between software and the physical world is going to become that much more important, and the knowledge of the two is going to be important.”

On leading the company for the past 15 years, Cote said, “It is incredibly rewarding.” As for the next 15 plus years, “This is going to be a really exciting time for Honeywell.”

During the event Cote also gave interviews to India's CNBC-TV18 and China's CCTV TV stations on the topics of trade and Honeywell growth within each of the countries. Speaking to CNBC-TV18's Shereen Bhan, Cote explained why, despite work that still remains to further improve the ease of doing business in India, he continues to be excited by the growth potential in the country.

Cote said, “I'm encouraged about the changes I see coming, and I just hope there is more and more of it‚Ķthere's so much opportunity in India &endash; you can talk about a billion people, about it becoming the world's most populous country in a couple of decades, the engineering capability, the brainpower, the entrepreneurialism that exists‚Ķif you can put all this together in a way that's productive, it could be hugely beneficial.”

DavosOn the topic of China, he told CCTV's Cheng Lei that “China is the biggest country for sales [for Honeywell] outside of the U.S., and almost all of it is for consumption within China as we have worked very hard to become the Chinese competitor.”

Cote concluded his visit by participating in a World Economic Forum executive panel discussion led by the Financial Times' U.S. managing editor Gillian Tett. Titled Protectionism &endash; Back to the Future?, the panel debate saw Cote join UPS Chairman and CEO David Abney, World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevêdo, the European Commission's Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and former Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Min Zhu, for an in-depth discussion on free trade versus protectionism.

Responding to questions regarding the potential impact of a more protectionist United States Cote said, “The day after the election, you could actually feel an improvement in the animal spirits of CEOs of both small and large companies‚ĶThere is a psychological effect that is occurring in the U.S. right now, and if there are a few things done to spark that, like the corporate tax reforms we discussed earlier, this could be a nice generator of economic growth.”

Rob Ferris
Corporate and Financial Media Relations