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Marquette University Alumni Association

Opus College of Engineering Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award

John P. McDermottJOHN P. McDERMOTT, ENG '80

In his 30-plus years at Rockwell Automation, John has been focused on his customers’ success. As senior vice president of global sales and marketing, his team spans more than 80 countries and works with customers to deliver automation solutions that help them drive productivity and stay competitive in today’s marketplace.

“We live in exiting times. Technology is moving fast and innovation is critical,” he says. “Our customers are more globally connected than ever before. I find this challenging and fascinating.”

John relishes the opportunity to work with customers across a variety of countries and industries, from mature markets to ones where consumerism is just starting to emerge.

“There are large populations of people around the world moving into the middle class for the first time,” he says. “Our automation solutions help our customers drive smart, safe and sustainable operations that deliver natural resources and consumer products to those markets, improving the standard of living for many people.”

John is committed to the company’s culture and ensuring it evolves as its workforce changes. He is focused on improving the company’s employee engagement, diversity and inclusiveness, including his executive sponsorship of the company’s young professional network.

“Our people and culture are our most important asset in delivering the right solutions and experiences for our customers,” says John. “I find working with our employees, managers and leaders on this effort exciting, and it keeps me learning all the time.”

When he isn’t traveling, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Chris, and giving back to the community. John and Chris believe in Catholic, single-sex high school education and are chairing the Divine Savior Holy Angels High School Building on our Faith campaign, which is raising money for endowment, teacher development and facilities.

Together, they support Life Navigators, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the lives of individuals with developmental and related disabilities and their families. John is one of Rockwell’s sponsors of FIRST Robotics and personally supports Team 1732 from Marquette University High School and Divine Savior Holy Angels. John also serves as a director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce.

Fun Facts

Hometown: “I always have trouble identifying my hometown. I was born in Cincinnati but have moved many times. I’ve moved to Milwaukee six times (three times with my parents and three time as an adult with Chris), so many times I say that Milwaukee is my hometown.”

Favorite book: “I really don’t have a favorite book. I prefer to read instead of watching movies on international flights. I like to rotate among action thrillers, history and biographies.”

Dream dinner guest: “Benjamin Franklin. A fascinating individual who also lived during some exciting times.”

Faculty member who had an impact: “Dr. Al Szews, who taught me electromagnetic theory and safety. He was also my counselor and was very supportive of me taking a job in technical sales while most faculty were encouraging me to pursue a more traditional engineering position.”

Marquette legacy: “My dad, Richard McDermott, Eng ’49; my mom, Elizabeth Semrad McDermott, Dent Hy ’49; my brother, Richard McDermott, Eng ’91, Law ’94; my daughter, Erin McDermott Stanek, Grad ’09; my son-in-law, Peter Stanek, H Sci ’08, Dent ’12; and my son, Joe McDermott, Bus Ad ’11. My son Jack McDermott stayed in the Jesuit family but was recruited to Xavier, Bus Ad ’14.”

Most influential person in his life: “Chris has supported me throughout our married life. Without that support, I wouldn’t have been recognized with this award. My father also had a large influence. He passed away in 1999, but I think of the things he taught me all the time.”