I recently facilitated a forum on ‘the future of gas’ at the AtWork event held by GE. The forum was addressed by the world chairman of GE, Jeff Immelt. Incredibly, in an era when CEO’s are lucky to survive a couple of years at the top, Jeff has led GE for 11 years, since the retirement of Jack Welch. The question occurred to me, how does a company with 300 000 employees hang together? GE is a first rank player in many diverse industries such as finance, health care, turbines and jet engines. It still makes the humble light bulb – invented by founder, Thomas Edison. The answer lies in its strong culture. Immelt spends about a third of his time with people – picking, coaching and nurturing them. He emphasises that the company is a ‘we’ culture, not a ‘me’ culture. This was his third trip to Australia in the last couple of years.
From right to left. P Thompson, David Knox of Santos, Ann Pickard of Shell, Drew Clarke of Dept of Resources, Energy and Tourism, Steve Sargent of GE