Staying ahead of your competition in today’s fast-paced, globally innovative workspace has never been more challenging. Businesses that want to stay ahead of their rivals do so by driving creativity and innovation through cutting edge technology that’s revolutionized the competitive workspace globally. General Electric (GE) Africa has made technology and innovation the cornerstone of its success by balancing its massive strides in driving technological advancements with a continuously updated skills training and development program for its employees.
GE Africa’s start-up spirit towards innovation, backed by global-scale resources, has fed into its many career accelerator/incubator programs for young future leaders which offers them an opportunity for a diverse career in multiple industries and locations, backed by a solid foundation in digital training and innovation.
One of these programs, the Digital Technology Leadership Program (DTLP), has tapped into young talent with a penchant for information technology and software development coupled with a drive to develop and innovate products. It has channeled them into a two-year intensive program to receive professional mentoring from top minds in the field along with virtual classes, hands-on training modules and real-world experience working on challenging projects.
The linchpin of the DTLP is the way it structures itself around fostering talent: for all trainees there is a global program manager who is backed by individual business program managers who guide the DTLP’s through their experience. Then you have regional and Hub partners who support the program on a more sectional level and across the various GE businesses, and finally there’re assignment leaders who manage each individual DTLP’s work experiences and make sure they are developed through a scaled series on challenging work assignments.
The focus of all this intensive training ranges from a focus in data and analytics, user experience, security and risk, digital operations, architecture, and digital engineering – assignments, on the other hand, focus on figuring out how to apply technology to solve real-world business problems and development technical expertise while building leadership skills.
“GE is a leadership company investing in development throughout one’s career,” says Vera Ambeva, Senior Manager, Program Management, GE Digital in Sub-Saharan Africa. “DTLPs work on things that matter to the world… [The program] fosters talent by developing leadership, business acumen, technical expertise and personal attributes.
“The DTLPs are trained through rotations which provide challenging work with defined deliverables and a visible impact. They are given constant coaching and feedback as well as senior level visibility and exposure [including trainers from the Keller School of Business at Indiana University].”
According to Ambeva, GE’s initiatives to train digital and technology leaders has grown considerably over the years and the DTLP is actually the new consolidation (since July 2016) of two of its more successful programs, the Information Technology Leadership Program (ITLP) and the Software Development Leadership Program (SDLP). The number of trainees has also increased exponentially over the years – in 2016 alone the DTLP program trained approximately 350 young leaders globally.
For Cynthia Karago, who joined this program after completing GE’s graduate Early Career Development Program (ECDP), the on-job training and complex challenges that the DTLP provided gave her a chance to grow her digital and technical proficiency, and also start developing her leadership expertise.
“All my rotations were challenging,” says Karago. “I had no prior experience in any of the projects. My most rewarding experiences have been getting to see the results of my work and being recognized for it.”
Karago is a University of Strathmore in Nairobi, Kenya, graduate and is currently in her second year and third DTLP rotation. Having already spent two six-month rotations working as a business analyst in GE Healthcare, and as an infrastructure project manager at GE’s Africa Innovation Center in South Africa, Karago is now working as a business solutions project manager in India. She explains that every task is meant to push participants to meet unique challenges outside of their comfort zones so they can develop new skills and confidence.
“I think the culture of giving insights [at] GE has been my compass,” says Karago. “It’s great to deliver results, but insights help with defining “how” the job was done which is often overlooked if we focus on what was done.
“I also had a chance to [interact] with the most brilliant tech leaders. DTLP offers great exposure to senior leadership through numerous interactions – I’ve met and interacted with all the Global Growth & Operations CIOs from all the regions, twice!”
Karago adds that, aside from the privilege of working so closely with industry leaders as a young professional, the experience also had a profound impact on her work ethic and the way she now runs projects. All these accumulated skills will prove incredibly valuable as she faces increasingly tough challenges as she escalates through the leadership initiative.
With the DTLP, as with many of its initiatives, GE’s goal is to ensure its training experience is global and relevant, and that these cohorts of future leaders are comfortable with innovation and digital technology which is critical in maintaining their success and competitive edge.
GE’s goal is to become one of the top ten software companies in the world – by partnering their cutting edge hardware design with custom-made digital software, GE envisions that its products will bridge that gap between people, machines and technology to the benefit of the world around them.
In fact, having spotted the advancing gap in the market, over the years GE has been steadily transforming itself into a company with a strong digital solutions focus – these advances in the digital landscape are used to improve the effectiveness of its factories, streamline its ecosystems and enhance the digital products it provides its clients and partners. Here are some of the most impressive GE digital innovations to date:
GE’s game-changing operating system for the industrial internet drives their global economy by connecting industrial equipment, analyzing data, and delivers real-time evaluations and insights. It’s a one-of-a-kind platform and the goal is to get a large enough number of developers to use it so they can develop a massive integrated ecosystem that can develop applications (like the Apple iOS) for the entire industrial world.
HMI and SCADA
This new high-performance technology powered by the industrial internet monitors, controls and then visualizes every aspect of an industrial operation for intelligent control; operators can use HMI-SCADA solutions to immediately know what is important and what the correct action is to take to reduce costs and drive increased efficiency.
This pocket-sized ultrasound has the potential to save thousands of lives. From a floating hospital in Madagascar to the most elevated province of Papua New Guinea and the Olympics in Brazil, the VScan aims to bring healthcare to more people and in many different scenarios. This ultrasound machine (also known as the VScan with Dual Probe) is smaller than a softball at 135 mm in length and weighs only 420 grams.
REQUIRED NAVIGATION PERFORMANCE (RNP)
GE is a world leader in providing optimized RNP solutions at more than seventy airports across ten countries and is also officially recognized by the U.S Federal Aviation Agency. The system designs and implements flight paths to reduce decision heights, track miles flown for significant fuel and emissions savings, reduce noise and CO2 emissions, all while improving safety and access to airports.
As companies become more digitally connected the level of risk increases. To combat this GE Digital has developed a strategy led by cyber security experts informed by Industrial Control Systems (ICS); through this strategy GE helps customers to increase their resilience to cyberattacks and ensure continued safety.
INTERNET OF THINGS SERVICE
Led by GE Digital this service helps customers find new ways to deliver more reliable assets, lower operating costs, reduce risks and increase profitable growth by using solutions that bring together brilliant machines, insights and people to drive data intelligence through a digital thread with real-time connectivity.
Powered by Predix, this software synthesizes the manufacturing done by GE’s own plants and those of the world’s most recognized global brands by linking design, engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, distribution and services into one globally scalable intelligent system. The software enables you to predict, adapt and react more quickly and effectively to manufacturing challenges.
ASSET PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT (APM)
Powered by Predix, APM is a cloud-based software that works across all your equipment across all industries in an industrial plant or fleet and its solutions include ensuring machine and equipment health, reliability management, and maintenance optimization to help asset-centric industrial companies increase uptime, decrease cost, and reduce operational risks.
RAIL CONNECT 360
This connected software suite provides data-driven insights to reduce unplanned downtime and improve velocity, productivity and fuel efficiency. Built for freight rail this advanced software uses powerful analytics and enhanced visibility to help operators make better decisions.
GE HEALTH CLOUD
Designed to be scalable, secure, connected and an interoperable platform this cloud software aims to deliver the largest application ecosystem for the healthcare industry. Conceived to integrate into clinical workflows while managing the volume, velocity and variety of healthcare data, the GE Health Cloud will be capable of connecting to more than 500,000 GE medical imaging machines and more than 1.5 million imaging machines worldwide. It will also be capable of linking to millions of other healthcare devices including patient monitoring, diagnostics, anesthesia delivery, ultrasound, mammography and various data sources.
“GE is committed to the continued development of new [digital] solutions,” says Ambeva. “The fact that GE has such a deep understanding of its hardware, give it an advantage of developing software products that will improve operation of equipment.”
For GE the combination of innovative solutions and continued evolving skills training for its employees is a smart bet for ensuring they remain a competitive force in the digital-technology industry. And with the DTLP serving as a pipeline for its future leaders at the forefront of industrial innovation there’s a strong possibility that the future could see it completely transforming the industry by connecting physical challenges with digital solutions.