This week we interviewed Erica Briody, the talent acquisition director for GE Energy in Europe. Erica has over 20 years of experience in executive search. She has worked with varied and challenging clients all over the world and did an MBA at Henley Business School.
We started the interview by talking about fairness and transparency. Erica noted that this policy is reflected in GE's recruitment process as well. When they're hiring new staff GE look for the best and the brightest so it's very competitive, however they always make sure that every candidate gets the opportunity to distinguish themselves regardless of their background.
GE has groups to promote equality and represent minorities. For example GE has a LGBTA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) alliance and forums for the African, Asian and Hispanic communities to make sure everyone's concerns and opinions are heard.
We then talked about what kind of work life balance a candidate at GE Energy should expect. Erica responded by saying, “it’s very important to GE that our employees have a good work life balance.” For example, she said, "The women in engineering department who have recently become mothers benefit from a great work from home scheme.”
Erica also pointed out that GE is flexible when it comes to working hours. "We’re more interested in high levels of productivity which doesn’t always mean working long hours.” She assured us that GE believes in the idea that happy workers make productive workers.
We then discussed the kind of training programs an employee could expect. Erica discussed several dfferent leadership programs for those with Masters degree and MBAs. Some of the programs she talked about were GE’s HR, Commercial Leadership and finance programs. In all of them candidates meet key personnel and get to know their specific area of the company extremely well, over a period of 18 to 24 months.
She pointed out that GE is one of the few global companies that spends over $1 billion US dollars a year just on training its staff.
Erica emphasised that GE promotes a culture of risk taking. The thinking behind this is that companies can’t progress if they’re not willing to learn from their mistakes. This leads to a culture where employees aren't afraid to challenge the bureaucracy.
Erica told us that every single person at GE goes through a process of being reviewed in the middle of the year. They get to share their goals and reflect on how the company could help them. Erica explained that meritocracy leads to higher levels of productivity, and it also encourages employees to be imaginative and connect with each other.
The company is growing fast: in the last year alone GE energy has acquired five companies including Converteam, one of France’s largest electrical engineering companies. GE now has 90% ownership of the company which it bought for $3.2 billion.
Erica argued that this was a clear sign that the company was going from strength to strength. She said, “Not only is GE Energy a very dynamic and interesting company to work for, it’s also a very safe company to work for. Unlike a lot of other companies in the current climate we’re expanding because we retain the best people.”
Finally we asked Erica what the great advantage of working at GE energy is: "If you’re a young MBA graduate then GE is definitely an exciting place to work because of our international opportunities,” she said. Every 18 months an employee at GE could change locations. This becomes particularly exciting when considering that GE is based in over 100 different locations in the world.