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How GE Builds Global Leaders

Leadership development is where General Electric plans to make its big push to get back to pre-recession numbers – and so far it looks like that push is working exactly as planned. Corporate learning, as described in this interview transcript from Knowledge @ Wharton, isn’t a new process at GE. Rather, it’s been active for the past 60 years. Susan Peters (GE’s chief learning officer and vice president for executive development) explains that the company utilizes an umbrella approach to “global learning.” The overall aim is to inspire, develop and connect leaders who will ultimately move the company forward in the future. The leadership training is meant to include all levels of the organisation’s professionals. Inside of the “umbrella” learning style is a stair process where participants continually engage in the learning process: We take a stair-step approach to leadership learning at GE. First, we have a suite of on-demand courses that are available 24/7 through your computer. We have an enterprise-wide license with several vendors to provide material. We ensure that this content covers a wide range of topics from management skills to project skills — we use a lot of video, material with downloading capability, etc. We have encouraged people to use those avenues for one-off or on-demand or lunch and learn programs. But I wouldn’t say this is the essential part of our leadership learning. It’s foundational and it is available. Technology plays a huge role, though Peters explains that face-to-face learning is still a large part of the program. By leveraging and embedding technology in learning through virtual collaboration and classrooms, GE sees education flourish through new technologies and mindsets. Peters also indicated that the learning program is flexible: with the influx of Millennials who grew up using the internet and social media, GE adopted new training techniques. By taking in criticisms and suggestions from a new, younger, more connected workforce, the training program became more robust while maintaining relevancy for the entire professional workforce.

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