November 1, 2013 | By Raghuram Koka

Hear what our KGMA president, Ketan Pandit, has to say about the Session by Bart Powelson.


“I would rather recruit at Krannert than at Northwestern”

– Bart Powelson, Marketing Director, Emerson Climate Technologies


Krannert students have good quantitative skills and ability to solve business issues in analytical way. That’s the reason why Krannert Alum, Bart Powelson prefers to recruit at Krannert. KGMA (Krannert Graduate Marketing Association) hosted Guest Speaker Event on 1st November, 2013 to gain insights in to New Product Development process at Emerson Climate Technologies. Guest Speaker, Bart Powelson, Director of Commercial A/C Marketing, holds a degree in Bachelor of Science and an MBA in Marketing from Purdue University.  He is with Emerson since 1994 and is based at Company’s headquarters in Sidney, Ohio. Bart is responsible for launching new compressor products and technologies, monitoring key air conditioning market trends and providing commercial marketing support to manufacturers and contractors. Bart’s career path has included several roles of increasing responsibility including: Forecast analyst, Forecasting & Pricing manager, Manager of Business Development and Strategic Planning, Marketing Manager and Director – Commercial Air Conditioning Market.


Bart walked us through the roles he has had at Emerson and explained marketing related topics to those roles. It was a different way of presentation where he incorporated his career path in the slides and explained different marketing aspects related to forecasting, pricing and new product development. Different applications have different market trends and hence Market segmentation is of primary importance to any Company. An identical product might be valued differently in different markets. This different behavior makes segmentation very important in pricing the product appropriately. Starting with the importance of segmentation, Bart explained how product forecasting is done. He discussed various frameworks used at Emerson for product forecasting and planning. He explained how product forecasting is a critical part in the business and the role of marketing in assessing the market demand. It is important to forecast the total volume of the products but it is equally important to get the right product mix. The sales force is evaluated on their predictions and their performance is mapped on a matrix for easy analysis. Forecasting at Emerson Climate Technologies is done with 95% confidence interval.


After explaining about Forecasting and the critical role of marketing in pricing, he talked about New Product Development. At Emerson, they follow 8 stage approach to New Product Development as represented below:


There is no shortage of innovative ideas at Emerson. But they follow the above framework to screen the ideas. They prioritize the innovations on basis of market need, company strategy, business unit requirement and risk. Every concept is given a risk score, importance score, strategic score and so on. After this pre-screening of concept, top score ideas are shortlisted and funding decision is made. After that also there are many drafts for concept development and many revisions till final product is outlined. Each business unit at Emerson has a planning conference once a year. Planning conference is a one day meeting with CEO and his staff. Each unit discusses its’ projects in line and submits a proposal for funding. Bart mentioned two key things in the planning conference – firstly, the person presenting the new concept should make sure that he has really thought through the process and done his homework. If the CEO is able to rip him in first 4-5 questions, it indicates lack of product homework. And secondly, being a product manager, you should have the ability to defend your business idea. As a marketing person, you should be able to understand finance as well. You should be able to read in between the lines and analyze financial reports.

He also shared a book written by Emerson CEO, Charles Knight – “Performance without Compromise”. Emerson is able to increase its earnings consistently for past 50 years. The book outlines managerial insights and explains how Emerson is able to do such a great job and what other companies can learn from it.

Finally, to summarize, Bart shared the key lessons for us to follow:

  • Quantitative/Analytical skills are always valued
  • Segmentation is key to understand trends & values
  • You can’t improve what you can’t measure
  • Planning is contact sport – and there is no off season
  • Know your market
  • Customer interaction is paramount
  • Spend time early on detailed product specification
  • Marketing plays a major role throughout the New Product Development process
  • Marketing is voice of customer within an Organization
  • Always remain a student. Don’t stop learning.

It was a very informative session and we discovered a new side of marketing – product planning and forecasting. It was a great experience to have Bart on campus and to learn so many cool things from him.

The event would not have been possible without all the students who came on a Friday morning and special thanks to KGMA 1st year representatives Daniel Cohen, Tiffany Wendler, Hery Sofiaji, Lucy Lu for arranging and promoting the event.

With many more events to come, stay tuned and follow KGMA on KrannertLife.


Written by:

Ketan Pandit

President – Krannert Graduate Marketing Association

MBA, Class of 2014

Mobile: 765 588 7972


20131101_105437 20131101_105451

Raghuram Koka
Raghuram Koka