Several weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the 2015 Global Leadership Meeting held near Lake George, New York. As a first time attendee, I wasn’t sure what to expect or how, if at all, I would be able to adequately relay my experience to the members of my laboratory or my project teams. Fortunately, I was unnecessarily worried, because after having some time to personally reflect on the GLM, and then participating in my own Technology Organization’s GLM, I came away with a strong sense of two important themes that truly resonated with me as a leader in GE Global Research. Both of these themes are related to our culture as a company and are encapsulated, perhaps not obviously, in the GE Beliefs.
Like many other engineers and scientists working at GE Global Research, I consider myself a bit of a technology maven; constantly curious about technology being developed both inside and outside of our company, especially disruptive technologies. Disruption is like a game where strategy and speed are always in tension – part chess, part race – and I am passionately energized by it. In this light, it’s not surprising that the first thing that struck me during the GLM was the focus on some of the new technology thrusts happening within GE.
Changing the technology landscape
Of particular note is the pursuit of a bold strategy to marry the digital and physical sciences in an aggressive bid to disrupt the industrial markets we play in. We’re calling it the industrial internet and, at its core, is the concept of pairing up the “internet of things” that has taken the consumer market by storm, with our company’s deep and longstanding expertise in complex, physical engineering. This is more than just a science project; it’s an adaptation to the changing technology landscape. The rise of big data analytics and the confluence of the physical and digital is something that we’ve recognized as essential to staying relevant in an extremely fast-moving industrial landscape.
Hearing the great talks about this emerging technology at the GLM, and understanding the scope of our investments in this area, helped reinforce a core tenet of GE’s that has always motivated me as an employee: we’re taking an offensive position in this technology area, and we’re doing so to lead, not to follow. We’re attempting to disrupt the landscape, and we’re playing to win. To me, this truly epitomizes the GE Belief: Learn and Adapt to Win, and is just one example of the many ways for how we’re doing it as a company.
Thinking and acting as one team
Another element of the GLM that resonated with me centered on the recurring theme of collaboration. Now more than ever, with innovation happening at an unprecedented rate, we need to think and act as one team within GE. Regardless of our function, our experience, or our technology area, it is essential to acknowledge that everyone on our team brings something of value to the goals we’re striving to accomplish. Sure, when things are moving fast, it might seem easier to go it alone – but if we don’t take the time to embrace and empower one another, we will undoubtedly be disadvantaged against our competitors who are working equally hard to innovate. I’m a big believer in teamwork, and am inspired every day by the teams we’ve built to solve some of the world’s toughest technology problems. In my view, the words reflected in the GE Belief: Empower and Inspire Each Other perfectly captures the spirit of teamwork and collaborative culture we must continue to foster within GE. As a lab manager and project leader, I know that this can begin with me.
In short, my takeaways from the GLM revolved around our cutting-edge technology and our people, the two things that have made GE the company that it is today. Every day, I’m personally inspired by those around me; the people on my teams; and the tough technical challenges we’re trying to overcome together at Global Research. Being able to see, firsthand, our GE Beliefs being put to practice at the top levels of leadership underscored the fact that the way we approach new and exciting problems in technology, together, isn’t anything new – it’s simply the way we work.