Robert Willett promoted to chief executive officer.

Cognex Corp.   announced that Robert Willett, the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer, has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer. Willett will continue to report to Dr. Robert J. Shillman, who remains Chairman of the Board and who has taken on the newly-created role of Cognex’s Chief Culture Officer.  

“Since joining Cognex just three years ago, Rob has done a superb job of both managing our business during the 2009 downturn and in laying the groundwork for our company’s record-breaking financial performance in 2010,” says Shillman.  “His leadership was instrumental in every key area, including choosing the strategic markets to pursue for growth, establishing our product development priorities and, finally, in guiding and motivating the talented team of ‘Cognoids’ around the world to make it all happen.  Rob is an immensely capable business leader and a true Cognoid who takes his work seriously, but who doesn’t take himself seriously.  He embodies our motto of ‘Work Hard, Play Hard and Move Fast!’  

“Although I have given up my responsibilities as the CEO of Cognex, I will continue to be very involved with the company. I will split my time between seeking out new technologies, markets and acquisitions that will help us grow in the years ahead.  And, in my new role as Chief Culture Officer, I will work hard to maintain our unique corporate culture in every office around the world so that Cognex can continue to be a great place for smart, creative and hardworking people to build their careers.”  

In his most recent role as President and Chief Operating Officer of Cognex Corporation, Willett had management responsibility for sales, marketing, product development and operations for both of Cognex’s two divisions , the Modular Vision Systems Division and the Surface Inspection Systems Division.  As CEO, Willett also is now responsible for the company’s global Finance & Administration functions.  

Willett joined Cognex in 2008 as Executive Vice President and President of the Modular Vision Systems Division.  In 2010, he was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer of Cognex, at which time he assumed the additional responsibility for its Surface Inspection Systems Division. Prior to joining Cognex he served as Group Vice President of Business Development and Innovation for the Product Identification business group at Danaher Corp., a diversified manufacturer of industrial controls and technologies, with annual revenues of more than $10 billion.  Prior to that role, he served as President of Videojet Technologies, a subsidiary of Danaher and a market leader in coding and marking products, with revenue in excess of $500 million.  Before joining Danaher, he was CEO of Willett International Ltd., a global coding and marking company that he sold to Danaher in 2003, and that was merged into Videojet.  

Cognex is headquartered in Natick, MA.