It was a privilege as a person and as a student to watch the presentation of Stephan Reimelt, current CEO of GE Energy Germany and future CEO of GE Europe.
In a casual atmosphere Mr. Reimelt started his presentation by introducing the values and philosophy of the company. It took me no longer than 15 minutes to realize that this was more than just a presentation of a company. Mr. Reimelt talked about the challenges a current global leader has to face, and strongly emphasized the importance of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Furthermore, he stated that speed is a crucial factor for decision-making. For a large corporation it is hard to take decisions and attend to clients’ needs in a short period of time. GE has become very successful in providing quality services and rapid solutions for its clients. Furthermore, GE also considers their clients’ opinions in the development process of new products. According to Mr. Reimelt, the average time for a new idea to leave the R&D department and become a new product is 4 years. In a dynamic market environment, in which GE operates, 4 years is too long. In order to reduce the time period and increase the acceptability of the product, GE involves the clients in the early stages of product’s development. Being quick to recognize a good or a bad idea is a key driver for success.
When one student asked him how such a large company was so open for new ideas, he answered by demonstrating qualities of an employee that GE would be very interested in. Curiosity was the key word. According to Mr. Reimelt, GE is looking for people who are willing to look and try beyond, people who are not afraid of making mistakes, as long as they are “smart” mistakes. GE understands that in order to be innovative and differentiate itself from the competitors, the employees must be free to bring new ideas into discussion. Knowing that failure is part of the development process, learning from the mistakes is a crucial factor inside the company. GE is very open to new ideas and is capable to challenge them on early stages, this creates a strong potential for innovation and demands sense of entrepreneurship from its employees.
From Mr. Reimelt’s speech, it was clear that the slogan, “imagination at work” is fully in line with the GE Energy way of doing business. The company’s values such as fostering innovation, creativity and teamwork were constantly present throughout the presentation. As my personal point of view, providing freedom to employees to develop new concepts is a key reason for GE’s successful history.
Since I will be graduating in the Master in International Business next year, I really took a lot away from listening to Mr. Reimelt’s professionally and very inspiring speech.