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General Electric Boosts Global MBA Hiring, Focuses On Industrial Data and Software

General Electric’s prestigious Experienced Commercial Leadership Programme expands to two intakes in 2016, to support strong growth in the firm’s industrial businesses

Mon Feb 15 2016

BusinessBecause
For the first time in its 13-year history, more than half the MBAs recruited to General Electric’s (GE) Experienced Commercial Leadership Programme (ECLP) are from regions outside the US, says the programme’s director.

As GE sheds its financial services businesses and targets global growth in its industrial businesses, Delia Garced, the new director of the ECLP, tells BusinessBecause about the opportunities for MBAs with the right technological and analytical skills. The firm is already a market leader in areas such as power generation and water, but GE’s leadership sees its future in providing cutting edge software and data solutions linked to its industrial products.

GE’s twitter page describes the firm neatly as “The world’s Digital Industrial Company”. Delia, who has been at the firm for 25 years, says that MBA grads who can work with technologists to develop digital and software solutions for the firm’s clients – governments and large enterprises – will be in high demand.    

What kind of candidates you are looking for in the next intake? Are there any regions or business verticals that you are prioritising?

We are recruiting across all divisions. We are very focused on developing software solutions for our industrial customers, and we are looking for ECLPs with the relevant digital skills.

We are moving away from 50:50, US:non-US recruitment. This year 70 to 80 per cent of our class is from non-US regions, and it’s a very global group: Africa, Asia, India, and Europe.

A lot of the best candidates have an MBA from the US or Europe, so they have global experience, and they are returning to their home markets where they understand the culture and the business dynamics. The ECLP gives them the opportunity to learn about the company and to be successful quickly in their region.

The work that ECLPs undertake is very exciting. You could be working on a water project in the Middle East, which is something that has huge impact.

The ECLP now has two intakes per year. What does that mean for candidates, in terms of the recruitment cycle?

We wanted to align the ECLP with the growth in hiring from outside the US. We now have two intakes each year, in January and in July. The January intake was introduced to accommodate MBAs graduating in December. The majority of the January 2016 class was identified by August, while the bulk of recruitment for the July 2016 class takes place in August and September.

More and more, we’re using our existing ECLPs to help us identify early on and conduct interviews. They have great relationships with their universities.

What is your favourite feature of the ECLP programme? What can ECLP recruits look forward to over the next year?

My favourite feature is bringing the classes together for our conferences. A huge part of the value of this programme is networking and sharing experiences with other ECLPs. It’s a two-year programme, and at the conferences the new classes can pick up useful tips from people who are graduating.

The 2016 conferences will take place in Budapest in January and New York City in July.

This year we launched online, on-demand, skills development content for our ECLPs, and they will use the conferences to apply what they have learned.           

You have held senior marketing roles in many GE businesses. What skills do you think are most important to be successful in B2B marketing?

Creativity of course. But in today’s environment, successful marketers need very strong analytical and digital skills, who can use digital technologies to capture the voice of our customers. This is something we like about MBAs: they have the ability to analyse and to consult. We have a lot of data and information nowadays, the challenge is to turn it around and use it to provide customer solutions.

This is where B2B marketing differs to B2C marketing. B2C is all about the experience, whereas B2B is about understanding what makes our customers profitable, and offering them solutions and outcomes, not just selling a product.

How has the internet changed the way you work with clients?

The industrial internet is critical to data capture, and it will grow much faster than the consumer internet. More generally, the internet gives us access to information quickly and easily, and the ability to work collaboratively. A lot of the forums we organise for our clients are successful because the community can solve shared problems, and the internet has facilitated that.

You were until recently co-chair of GE's National Hispanic Forum. What does the Forum do?

GE has a number of affinity groups, including for African Americans, women, people from the Asia-Pacific, and veterans. Al these forums are founded and owned by the members, not by the business, and they are an incredible resource for networking and career development.

I started at GE in Puerto Rico, and shortly afterwards moved to the US [to join the sales training programme]. The National Hispanic Forum was a great source of support for me as a newcomer who was bilingual and from a different background.

As the co-chair of the National Hispanic Forum, my role was inspiring and coaching our Hispanic colleagues, to make sure that we continued to attract diverse talent to GE. We have over 200 volunteers at the regional and national level, and close to 600 people came to our annual conference in Houston recently. We also have a scholarship fund, and it was great to meet some of the students we have supported.

Do you have to be an engineer to work at GE?

No, you don’t. I came to GE with a background in political science, and GE has provided me with the opportunity to work in a very technical business, and to be successful and continually challenged.

People come to GE with very diverse experiences. At the moment we have an ECLP candidate who is a doctor in Russia who also has an MBA, and wants to get into the management of healthcare.

I often find myself working with PhDs and leading experts in their field, and they always take the time to teach people around them. I have always had mentors to explain complex subjects to me and I really credit GE’s business culture for this.

Have you worked with ECLPs in previous roles?

As a business programme manager I managed several ECLPs. I was responsible for ensuring that they were developing the skills they needed. For example, I had an engineer who was looking to move to the commercial side, so I made sure he had the right experiences. I also made sure they got visibility to senior leadership, and had opportunities to network and learn from each other.

I was also an assignment leader on a commercial excellence project in our energy business. It was great to bring the ECLPs in with their fresh perspective and consultative mind-set. We created a blueprint to improve salesforce effectiveness in the business, including through better training. I really appreciate how the ECLPs challenge the status quo.

Follow Delia Garced on twitter here.

Read the ECLP blog here.

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