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CNBC Interview with Schneider Electric CEO, Jean-Pascal Tricoire from the World Economic Forum 2019


Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with Jean-Pascal Tricoire, CEO of Schneider Electric, and CNBC's Steve Sedgwick and Geoff Cutmore.

SS: Well, with that in mind, let's get to Jean-Pascal Tricoire, who is the Chairman and CEO of Schneider Electric. Always nice to see you, you always get an early cold slot, as well-,

JT: Yeah.

SS: But I'm glad you've dragged out your winter coat again-,

JT: Yeah.

SS: It's had some good use, that one. Now, look, what I want to talk to you about is not actually necessarily about Monsieur Macron, it's about the Global Digital Transformation Benefits Report that you've put out. Well, I would like to paraphrase that, as well. Should it be 'Benefits and Ills' report? Because it's not a slam dunk for everybody watching the show, that digitalization is a benefit. Or is it, sir? Good morning.

JT: For every industry, you mean? Is it a benefit for every-,

SS: For-, is digitalization, digital transformation-, you've got out a report now-,

JT: Yes.

SS: About the benefits from it, as well-,

JT: Sure.

SS: But there are a lot of ills, potentially, for many of our audience, aren't there?

JT: Yes, well, first good morning, effectively-,

SS: Good morning, sir.

JT: On this brisk and cold morning. Well, digitalization, anyway, I think is a fact of life, because it brings so many advantages. In-, in industry, in the places that we-, we serve, in terms of efficiency, in terms of reliability, the capacity to predict what could-, could happen, uh, in terms of utilization of assets, making a better use of all the investment, in terms of safety of people, making sure that you can really help your people to operate more safely, in to-, in to every environment, on the capacity to manage a company. Of course, there are risks linked to that, but as we all work to digitization, Schneider, and companies of the ecosystem, the level of defence, the level of professionalism, the level of protection, that we offer to companies, to people, is higher and higher. So, at the end of the day, it's a new technology, which is changing everything, but it's bringing so many benefits, that we are embracing it, our customers are embracing it, and it's very exciting.

GC: The headlines here are slowing growth in China, slowing growth globally. Does that pace of digitalization continue as rapidly, as companies see potential return from weaker growth abating?

JT: See, it's-, it's, as it were-, well, first, let's-, let's not whine and-, and cry about the present situation. We are coming from a 2018 with a great momentum, I can't comment on '19, we are in quiet period, but we exit '18 with a-, with a-, with a great momentum. But, at the end of the day, we see, on the contrary, digitization is accelerating, it's accelerating not only for research, of efficiency, and productivity, to prepare potentially for harsher times, but also for research of growth, research of more business, new business models, and if you take our sector, the other accelerating thing, which is less commented, and very much underestimated, is the acceleration of electrification, green electrification. And I'm not speaking about those kind of solar farms, but bringing electricity in every sector, because electricity is, fundamentally, the energy of any new technology. So, IT is accelerating to a very high speed, in-, in-, powered by electricity, transition to electric vehicles, new buildings are all electric-,

SS: Jean-Pascal-,

JT: So all of this are good …

SS: Apologies to interrupt, but you are one of the businessmen who bridges Asia and Europe, you're based, I think, still in Hong Kong-,

JT: Yes.

SS: As well-,

JT: Sure.

SS: Are we in danger, and I know you've talked a lot about multi-local pathways, no one-size-fits-all, but are we talking about an extreme of that, where actually a Chinese ecosystem and a western ecosystem exist, because of political tensions?

JT: I-, the world is-, is global, okay, and there are many global threads between our economies. But I have never seen the world as one, and I think, today, digital, particularly, has meant that the world is global, but its' even-, it's also very local. So, at Schneider, we've always chosen to build our company by country, to make sure that we-, we stick to the reality of each and every geography and country, and when you look at the ecosystems in digital, between, for instance, China and-, and-, and the US, they are drifting away, right? So you have-,

SS: That's not a good thing.

JT: Yeah, well, you have to adapt to it, you have to recognize that there are years of culture, uh, behind-, behind those-, those-, those many countries, and you have to acknowledge those differences, and I believe that the challenge that we have in front of us, of each company, to make sure that, on the one side, we leverage our global scale, but at the same time, we-, we really adapt to every country, and every-, and this is one of the reasons I went to Hong Kong, right, to learn Asia-,

SS: Yeah.

JT: Very close to the field

SS: Yeah. It's a-,

GC: Yeah-,

SS: It's an unbelievably-,

GC: 15% tax rate helps, too, I-, I would imagine, but, uh, hey ho-,

JT: Well, that-, that-, that-, uh, you should-, that's because you don't know the prices in Hong Kong, right-,

SS: Yeah-,

JT: The….

GC: Oh no, I-, I had a decade in Hong Kong-,

JT: No, no, no, no, no-,

GC: Jean-Pascal, I-, I wonder sometimes why I bothered coming back to Europe, to be honest-,

SS: To work with me, Geoff-,

JT: No, no-,

GC: Plus-, plus that-,

SS: To work with me.

JT: To work-,

GC: Plus that 50% tax.

SS: Jean-Pascal, I'm-, I'm afraid we've got to leave it there, we're going to apologise to a lot of CEOs today, because we're getting such a brilliant a-list coming through, but I know you and I are speaking later in the week, as well, so I'm looking forward to that, as well. Jean-Pascal Tricoire, who is Chairman and CEO of Schneider Electric.