GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to Retire; John Flannery Steps Up to Lead the Company

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2017 has been a tumultuous year for many large 3D printing companies, and now another shakeup comes as longtime GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt has announced that he will be retiring at the end of the year. Immelt, who has led the company for 16 years, will be succeeded by John Flannery, the current President and CEO of GE Healthcare, on August 1, and will continue to serve as chairman until the end of the year. In addition, CFO Jeff Bornstein has been promoted to Vice Chair of GE.

Immelt took office only a few days before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and led the company through that crisis as well as the economic recession beginning in 2008. He’s also been responsible for turning GE into a more digitally-focused company, and, as we all know, an additive manufacturing giant.  A focus on key markets such as power, aviation, transportation, healthcare and oil and gas, as well as several major portfolio moves, have marked his tenure as one of successful risk-taking and looking toward the future.

Jeffrey Immelt [Image: Pat Sullivan/AP]

Those portfolio moves include the acquisitions of Arcam and Concept Laser and the formation of GE Additive, propelling the corporation to a position as a leader in additive manufacturing. Other key moves included the combination of GE Oil & Gas with Baker Hughes, the acquisition of global energy leader Alstom, and the divestment of legacy businesses such as GE Appliances, NBC Universal and Plastics.

Immelt’s focus on technological innovation re-established GE as a market leader, positioned at the forefront of not only additive manufacturing but the Industrial Internet. GE nearly doubled its industrial profit during his tenure, and operating EPS was up about 50 percent. The company also returned $143 billion to investors in dividends, more than in GE’s entire history.

“Jeff has positioned the company incredibly well for the future,” said Jack Brennan, lead independent director for GE’s Board of Directors. “He executed a massive portfolio transformation and navigated the company through economic cycles and business disruptions. Today, GE is a high-tech industrial company with a bright future. Jeff was a particularly adept steward of GE’s culture. He knows thousands of GE people all over the world and worked relentlessly to simplify the culture and unleash the GE entrepreneurial spirit. The plan for the GE CEO transition process was set in 2011. With the GE Capital pivot behind us and the company’s transition to Boston complete, this is the ideal time for change. The board is confident that in the years to come, GE investors and employees will benefit from Jeff’s hard work.”

John Flannery

Flannery has been with GE since 1987, when he took a position at GE Capital evaluating risk for leveraged buy-outs. In the 1990s, he was a leader in the corporate restructuring and workout group, where, according to GE, he was known for his strong negotiating skills and ability to improve companies’ operations. In 1997, he moved to Argentina to lead GE’s Equity business in Latin America and the GE Capital business for Argentina and Chile.

Flannery became President and CEO of GE Equity in 2002, and moved to Asia in 2005 to lead the Asia Pacific region of GE Capital in 2005. He then moved to India in 2008 to lead GE in that country. In 2013, he began leading business development for GE Corporate, where his work included leading the acquisition of Alstom, the largest acquisition in the company’s history. After joining GE Healthcare in 2014, he led the business through significant improvements including increasing organic revenue by five percent and margins by 100 bps in 2016.

Flannery’s tenure at GE Healthcare has also been marked by a focus on technological innovation, including in core imaging, digital platforms and solutions, and the expansion of the Life Sciences division. He was also responsible for the launch of the disruptive technology-focused Sustainable Healthcare Solutions. GE Healthcare has demonstrated advanced 3D printing and imaging technology over the past few years, so there’s every reason to believe that Flannery will continue to drive GE’s technological, 3D-focused path forward when Immelt steps down.

“John is the right person to lead GE today,” said Immelt. “He has broad experience across multiple businesses, cycles and geographies. He has a track record of success and led one of our most essential businesses. Most important are his strong leadership traits – good judgment, resilience, a learner, team builder and a tough-minded individual and competitor. He will be trusted by investors, our customers and the GE team.”

“Today’s announcement is the greatest honor of my career,” added Flannery. “I am privileged to have spent the last 16 years at the company working for Jeff, one of the greatest business leaders of our time. He has transformed the GE portfolio, globalized the company and created a vision for the GE of the future by positioning the company to lead in digital and additive manufacturing.  In the next few months, my focus will be on listening to investors, customers and employees to determine the next steps for GE.”

It will be interesting to see what those next steps are; there’s always a period of uncertainty following a major leadership change, but one thing is clear: Flannery’s prioritization of advanced technology seems to match Immelt’s. What new developments he brings to GE will remain to be seen, but it’s likely that he will keep the company on the tech-focused trajectory that will continue to drive its growth and success. Discuss in the GE forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: GE]



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