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Marquette University Alumni Association

J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication Award Recipients

Communicator of the Year Award

John BernandenJOHN A. BERNADEN, JOUR '78

In his 10 years as director of corporate communications for Rockwell Automation, John has leveraged his passion for external communication with the skills and values engrained in him by Marquette.

He is responsible for leading global external communications and helping develop Rockwell Automation’s reputation as the world’s largest company solely dedicated to industrial automation and information solutions that make its customers more productive and the world more sustainable.

“Marquette provided me with strong core communications skills and great values to live and work by,” he says.

John is a member of the company’s government relations leadership team. In September 2010, he helped organize and is vice chairman of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition Inc. in Washington, D.C., to make recommendations to the White House and administration senior advisers for manufacturing, science and technology policy about a new public-private partnership program proposal and its “meaningful use” in supporting national goals to revitalize U.S. industrial competitiveness. In December 2014, President Obama launched a competition to establish a national smart manufacturing innovation institute, and John is in the early stages of helping a Milwaukee team bring the institute here.

“Collaboration and consensus-building are my personal formulas for success,” says John, who has more than 25 years of experience in previous marketing and communications leadership positions at Johnson Controls, Honeywell and Sprint. He co-authored the Intelligent Building Sourcebook and Open Protocols: Communications Standard for Building Automation Systems. He also has given more than 100 speeches and workshops on new technologies in smart buildings.

John hopes to retire early — but has no plans to slow down. He wants to write a business book, saying “The main thing I miss about moving from journalism to corporate America is having the freedom to write more often.”

Outside work, John is an active participant in the city, serving as president of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee. He also served as chairman of the board for the Milwaukee Public Television Friends, helping raise more than $5 million a year for local public television.

Fun Facts

Hometown: New Berlin, Wis.

Dream dinner guest: “Leonardo DaVinci.”

Favorite Marquette memory: “Writing the front-page Marquette Tribune headline after Marquette won the NCAA championship — ‘The Number is One!’ ”

Favorite quote: “’We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.’ — Winston Churchill.”

Marquette faculty or staff member who had an impact on you: “George Reedy, then the dean of the College of Journalism, wisely advised me how to be more subtle to avoid censorship.”

When you were in grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up and why? “An astronaut. My father developed guidance systems for rockets, so we talked a lot about the space race in our family.”

Marquette legacy: “Our son Michael attended the College of Business Administration.”

Who has been the most influential person in your life, and why? “My wife Kathleen keeps me humble and focused.”