2022 Engineering Leader Under 40: Jeffrey Blair, 37
Jeffrey Blair, Engineering Manager, Rockwell Automation, Mayfield Heights, OH
Jeffrey Blair, 37
Mayfield Heights, OH, United States
BS Electrical Engineering, University of Akron
Why Jeff is an Engineering Leader
As an Engineering Manager, Jeff Blair approaches the role with a Servant Leader mindset; his job is to remove blockers and enable individuals to bring their best selves to work. He has managed highly diverse engineering teams for 4 years and is a passionate advocate for his peers and teammates. Jeff’s teams have focused on continuation engineering and new product development of distributed control systems for both discrete and process manufacturing, while he focuses on team culture and career development. Jeff believes that inclusion and diversity are critical to solving complex problems in the design of Rockwell Automation’s next generation products.
Achievements, Advancement & Career-related Industry Contributions
Jeff began at Rockwell Automation in 2013 as a co-op while attending the University of Akron. It was there that he gained an appreciation for the complexity of developing products used in the industrial manufacturing environment, as well as the importance of developing people capable of solving complex problems. Jeff joined full-time through the Leadership Development Program, where he was able to work with engineering teams responsible for multiple key technologies. Jeff gained experience at the customer- and sales-level working in the Los Angeles field service office where he helped solve line-down issues at the factory floor while also understanding Rockwell’s customer-first approach to commercial strategies. His following three rotations were spent with the Commercial Engineering team responsible for industrial network design guidance, then with the Common Architecture and Technology team developing companywide internal secure coding and design standards, and development of Functional Safety products with an international team located in Maldon, England. Upon graduating the program, Jeff shifted into a Team Lead role with ControlLogix Continuation Engineering where he was responsible for maintaining availability and quality of some of Rockwell’s most critical product families. Jeff now serves as Engineering Manager for the next generation fault-tolerant distributed I/O platform.
Non-work-related Activities & Hobbies
Jeff’s biggest passion in life is experiencing other cultures through travel and, in doing so, continually reinforcing his appreciation for the magnitude of this world around us. He truly believes that embracing diversity in culture, experience and approach are paramount to innovation both in what we design and how we approach our work. Jeff has had the great fortune of visiting more than 50 countries and meeting many wonderful people that have helped develop his vision for the leader that he wants to be – not just when things are easy, but most importantly when they are the most trying.
Jeff served in the U.S. Navy for 5 years aboard the U.S.S. George Washington. This is where he first gained an appreciation for the importance of a “team over self” approach and the need for selflessness and humility as a foundation of good leadership. Success as a leader never comes despite the team, but because of the team.
Jeff is also an avid woodworker and loves experiencing the journey from concept to reality, with all the bumps along the way. The satisfaction that comes through making something from nothing is the spark that drove him to become an engineer.
Why Jeff chose this career
Jeff feels that he has been an engineer since birth; it was imprinted in his DNA. Jeff’s parents were exasperated at the amount of electronics that they had to purchase through his childhood because he would open them up and try to disassemble and reassemble, and he preferred working with puzzles and LEGOs over watching cartoons or playing outside. Jeff’s leadership path took much longer to find and isn’t his alone but is shared by the many influential people in his life, including his current teams. Jeff takes great pride in empowering the people around him to become their best selves.