By Vineet Sahaya, Global MBA student, India
On a bright sunny day of May 3rd , half of the Global MBA program batch decided to visit GE's offices near La Défense. It was an invitation to meet with people from GE and its affiliated companies i.e GE Capital, GE Money, GE Healthcare and GE Energy. We were excited about this trek since the batch were not only being hosted by 7 speakers (the largest number of guest speakers for any company trek to this point) but also because it was a long evening followed by a cocktail to network freely. The fact that we were running on a tight schedule, heading to the GE office at 5 pm after a long day of classes and group presentations followed by Managerial Economics exams ( finishing at 3:45 pm), did not dampen our spirits. It’s all normal in the day of a Global MBA Students. As our Program Director says often, “time is elastic”.
We were welcomed by the Training Manager at the GE office, located in the La Défense plaza. We were led to the boardroom which showed a neat clean look, reflecting the image of a company confident and comfortable with itself. The session started with introductions followed by a rundown of GE’s history, starting with its founding in 1892 by the great inventor, Thomas Edison. This was followed by a presentation of GE and its businesses in each industry. It showed the main business units of GE businesses which ranged from GE Capital, GE Energy, GE technology infrastructure to GE Home and Business Solutions. The spectrum of businesses covered just about every business one can possibly think of. With an revenue of $ 160 billion, over 3,25,000 employees and a presence in over 100 countries, GE is a colossal giant. Since over half of GE's revenue is derived from financial services, it is arguably a financial company with a manufacturing arm. It is also one of the largest lenders in countries other than the United States, such as Japan. In 2011, Fortune ranked GE the 6th largest firm in the U.S, as well as the 14th most profitable. The numbers kept going on and on…
The next presenter, their Organization and Staffing Leader, gave us some insight into GE's culture, which focuses on strong values, leadership, and integrity as well as performance. What was interesting was that GE’s appraisal system focuses not only on performance parameters but also on values displayed. This spoke about the culture itself and the importance given to Walk the talk. She emphasized that for GE “change is constant” and is part of its culture. This explained how for such a huge company, GE is still able to make changes like a small company and move fast, something that a lot of companies struggle to do. Later we were joined by the HR Directo, who talked about how GE recruits its employees, not only focusing on skills but also on culture fit. She then opened the floor for a question and answer session to answer queries and clarify doubts, if any.
This was followed by a talk on the financial spects of GE businesses by two Finance Managers and the various kinds of Leadership programs that are on offer. That was very exhaustive and also enlightened us on the 5 centers of studies in 5 countries which replicate the Crotonville learning center based in US. It showed that training and leadership development is as important at GE as the organization's business goals.
The next to follow were two participants of the Experienced Commercial Leadership Program (ECLP), an intensive two-year program for commercial savvy talent consisting of three eight month rotational assignments in the sales and marketing functions of a GE business. They were happy to share their experiences and answered all questions we had.
Finally, the presentations were over and it was time for the cocktail. We thanked everybody and presented them with small gifts as a token of appreciation. All the presenters including the HR Director joined us for a free-flowing conversation over cocktails and made us feel at home. It was a chance for networking which we gladly did (as we have got used to by now). The HR director and other managers expressed their happiness to host the ESSEC Global MBA program.
We were invited to come over again and discuss opportunities with them on an individual basis. The whole trek lasted almost 3 hours and gave us great insight into the organization, its culture and the opportunities we may have there for growth.