Personal Growth from a Global Perspective
Over 150 European GE top leaders (EB) from both industrial and capital businesses gathered at Hilton Arc de Triomphe Paris to take part in the 2011 EMEA EB Summit. There were 15 speakers and guests from GE’s highest management, as well as external participants. The summit focused on topics ranging from global economy and growth, scenarios for European Union’s future, GE in Europe, through multigenerational workforce, emerging trends in society, technology and business to important GE initiatives such as Ecomagination or diversity.
The most important and exciting part of the summit was that related to Jeff Immelt’s speech and his discussion with the participants. Jeff talked about GE’s growth outside the US – he mentioned that more than 60% of the Company’s revenues come from outside the United States, with over $35 billion from the emerging markets alone. He explained that globalization as an outsourcing concept is over and now it is all about markets and localization, the latter meaning addressing the needs of the local societies and markets.
Jeff also stressed the vital importance of GE’s industrial part which, due to a very strong global competition, needs to become a “technical powerhouse”, putting 5-6% of revenues back into Research & Development. As an example – over the next decade, GE Aviation will launch more new jet engines than it has over the last three decades.
Jeff commented on what is currently happening in the European Union economy. Comparing the current EU situation to the US situation back in 2008, he said that whatever the decision on Greece and other issues, there should never be another Lehman Brothers. Whatever needs to happen to struggling countries or enterprises, it should be more like General Motors. The EU leadership should focus on frequent and honest communication with the financial markets.
Jeff also commented on his advisory role to the US President Barack Obama on the job creation project. He said he firmly believed that what is causing social unrest is the lack of jobs and companies that create sustainable jobs.
Jean-Michel Malbrancq – President & CEO, Europe GE Healthcare made a point on how big GE’s presence is in Europe. We have been here for over 100 years, employing 84,000 people with annual revenues of over $24 billion. GE in Central Eastern Europe employs 26,000 people with annual revenues of $4 billion, double-digit y/y growth!
Mark Hutchinson – President & CEO, GE Greater China – was sharing his perspective on the global economy growth and the role of China. Mark has lived in many different countries, regions and cultures, so it was very interesting to get to know his perspective on global leadership. The advice he gave us on how to advance our careers in the global economy and a global company were as follows: mobility is an advantage to your career (“The best jobs in the Company… are not here!”), you need to be flexible and able to take some risk, know your end game (what is this career step leading me to?) and … in the end – you still have to be THE BEST, GE is a meritocracy. Mark also recommended a must-read book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, to help us better understand this concept.
Challenging Environment for Leadership
The Forum discussions also addressed the subject of a multigenerational workforce. Both external speakers – Peter Cheese and Richard Watson – talked about the challenge of having five different generations working together in the same company and how companies need to address their varying aspirations or communications preferences. We also looked ahead into demographic and educational trends, which show that the society will continue to age in the developed part of the world and that there will be a shortage of expertise in high technology areas.