by Tom HARALDSEN
When Forbes Magazine released its list this year of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women,” some of the names in its upper echelon weren’t a surprise. Names like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and billionaire philanthropist Melinda Gates topped the list.
Among this select group of women is former Davis County resident Lisa Magnuson Davis. She was ranked 56th on the list, ahead of a few other women you may have heard of: Hillary Clinton at 65, Arianna Huffington at 79, Taylor Swift at 85 and J.K. Rowling at 88.
While Davis said she was “quite surprised” when she learned of the honor from a coworker, she probably shouldn’t have been. She is chair and CEO of Siemens Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of German conglomerate Siemens AG. She oversees the company’s energy operations, including a megaproject currently being developed that aims to increase Egypt’s power generation capacity by 50 percent.
Power and energy go together both literally and figuratively, and since her days as a student at the University of Utah and later at the University of California at Berkeley, Davis has always had her eye on both the sciences of engineering and business.
“I liked the sciences a lot, as well as math,” she said. “Engineering was always a field I was focused on because I wanted to get a great job right out of college.”
She’s also drawn to the financial side of the different companies she’s worked for. “I’ve never had a job where it’s all been strictly engineering.”
Though she was raised in Idaho and Montana, she moved to North Salt Lake right after high school graduation when her father came to Utah to work for the FAA. She returns to visit her parents, Don and Charlene Magnuson of North Salt Lake, and her brother, Brad Magnuson of Kaysville, as often as she can. Davis came back to Utah with her husband Brian, whom she met at Berkeley, to do some skiing over the recent holidays.
“There wasn’t much snow, unfortunately, but I always love coming back,” she said.
Davis spent the first 28 years of her career working in the oil and gas industry, for companies like Exxon, Texaco and Shell, and traveling worldwide. Today, she and Brian, who is also an engineer in the petroleum industry, split their time between their home in Houston and time in Germany.
“I joined with Siemens in 2014, and my job really divides my responsibilities in three directions,” she said. “I manage all of Siemens’ power businesses – including generation and power plants around the world. I also manage the Americas for Siemens – all of its portfolio companies. And then I serve on its Board of Directors.”
Davis steered a merger, which closed last April, of Siemens’ wind-power business and Spain’s Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica SA, creating one of the world’s largest wind-turbine manufacturers.
“I think what we do at Siemens is quite impressive,” she said. “We support economies around the world. Oil and gas is obviously a very global business, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with different companies in many different countries.”
A fitting tribute to one of the most powerful, and impactful, women on the planet.