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Thursday
Jan092014

A Team Building Event

I am currently in Schenectady for my 2nd rotation, in Marketing & Strategy for GE Renewables.

Our team here in Schenectady consists of nine people. Eight people of the team were present for this team building event today, including our team leader, who reports to the leader of the Renewables business within P&W.

The reason for this team building event this was to bring the team together, understand the dynamics, each members’ strengths, how we interacted with each other, how our leader federated us, and how we could improve our team.

The day consisted of improvisations in the morning, guessing activities during lunch, and creativity, risk taking, collaboration and trust through team painting in the afternoon. It enabled us to get to know each other through our ways of interacting.

As we played the manner of how we would react to certain situations, we discovered how each of us, no matter how different we could be, fit perfectly into a rather well structured team. One exercise was to find examples of ways to declass someone in a meeting with phrases such as “So who do you report to anyways?” We gladly discovered we were all quite bad at it. Another exercise was to describe a current project we are working on using a “once upon a time” structure. “Once upon a time, in the land of Schenectady, the renewables business decided to focus on how to re-enter the solar industry.” This was entertaining and showed the use of explaining a project as a story in order to bring out its purpose and conclusions.

We also had an interesting moment where we discussed Abby’s conception of her leadership on us and compared it to the previous Marketing & Strategy leader. This was a great moment in which everyone could openly speak to Abby, and share observations and personal opinions about her leadership. I personally believe this is not something that is done so easily, even in a forward thinking business such as GE, and it was an experience in which the team was brought closer together.

The main takeaways of this initiative were that there clearly were strong dynamics between us. It was easy to pick out which were the more participative and bold individuals, the more observant, reflective people, the more imaginative and the more focussed. The animator’s feedback was that he felt he hardly had much work to do with us because we already were quite developed in working together and valuing everyone’s’ input for effective decisions.

All in all, the day helped each of us get to know each other better, and understand our strengths and improvement areas.

Thank you,

Best regards,

James

 

Written by: James Pochez (Power & Water / Schenectady, NY, USA)

Thursday
Dec192013

Brasil and Lots of Parenthesis (You’ll Understand by the First Phrase)

Brasil is an immense emerging market country. It’s part of “old 3rd world”, the soccer and carnival nation, as well as the next world cup host (and winner perhaps?). If you want to get a general overview of this country from my POV (point of view), continue reading (if not, well… I hope you giggled with the title as you got here and have already seen three interruptions just in this paragraph – have a good day!).

Over 200 million Brazilians in a country that represents 87% of US size (Did you know that?). Yes, it’s huge… Huge in land, population, oil reserves, wonderful beaches and natural resources. All of this is colored by an amazing culture. Yes, you’ve heard about Carnaval, great music, caipirinha and Brazilian steakhouses – but believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg. (If you are hungry, click this link http://www.buzzfeed.com/gabrielakruschewsky/traditional-brazilian-foods-you-need-to-eat-right-now, to see the “24 Traditional Brazilian Foods You Need To Eat Right Now.” Notice that steaks didn’t even make the list! 

Besides the population’s happiness, the natural beauties and market opportunities, Brasil has enormous problems. Starting from the wealth inequality that affects (and is affected by) businesses and living costs to, without naming political corruption (the outset of most problems), an education deficiency, violence, pollution and traffic jams (Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are among the top 10 cities with worst traffic in the world), there exists many problems in Brasil.

We speak Portuguese, greet people informally with a cheek kiss, and tend to be informal most part of the time. We speak and laugh very loudly everywhere we go (in the bus, in the streets, at the office). We celebrate “Happy Hours” on Thursdays and Fridays (Tuesdays, Wednesdays… ). For us “maybe” stands for “no” and we say “keep in touch” even without exchanging contacts.

To take you back to the business mode, GE has tons of regional offices (and CLPs) in Brasil.  From a GGO (Global & Growth Operations) Latin American headquarters in São Paulo, to lots of manufacturing plants, service centers (GE CELMA is the worldwide most reliable regarding to GE Aviation!) and general offices throughout the country, GE has a strong presence in this country. It’ll host the next GRC (Global Research Center) in Rio, where the biggest Oil & Gas national market is, as well as the same place as Petrobrás NOC (national oil company) headquarters.

And yes, I’ve been writing Brasil with an S instead of a Z. That is how we write it there!

Written by: Fernanda Rodrigues (Global Operations / Houston, TX, USA)

Tuesday
Dec172013

A Lesson in Strategy

If you have not had the chance to see the movie “Ender’s Game” yet this year, I highly recommend that you do.  For those who don’t know the story- Earth was attacked by an alien species, but Earth’s military managed to fend off the invaders and force them back to their home planet.  Now, Earth’s most intelligent children are inducted into a rigorous training program where they learn, through computer simulated war scenarios, to command military strikes against the alien species in preparation for future conflict.  Ender, a tall lanky child in the program, has been marked to be the commander of the army, but must first prove he is capable of being the leader Earth needs.  It’s a science-fantasy thriller, with thorough character development, stunning graphics, and moral questioning plot twists that may very well have something to teach us.

My favorite part of the movie was the level of strategy that went into every action and decision Ender had to make.  Not just in the war games, but in his social interactions as well.  While Ender needs to elevate himself to a position of leadership, his physical appearance is more suitable to the role of Alfalfa from “The Rascals.”  It’s through the use of Bobby Fischer like strategic acuity that he manages to win over his team and prove himself a worthy commander within the program. 

What Ender has ultimately achieved, to put into CLP terms, is sophisticated brand control.  As we have learned in our GE training, controlling your brand is important to developing yourself as an effective leader.  Our brand is how we are perceived and how our actions are interpreted.  It is its own form of communication; expressing to our customers, co-workers, and friends what kind of a person we are.

So what can we learn from Ender?  We can learn to think strategically about how we choose to develop our brand and leadership styles.  You figured out how to prove your competition wrong, but will doing so make you appear knowledgeable or derogatory?  Is there another way?  Did you stop to think about the possible response to the color of your shirt at a football game (not something you want to get wrong in Alabama…)?  We are always building our brand, whether consciously or not.  If you’re unaware of the brand you’re building, it’s probably not the message you want to be sending.

I’m not saying we should strategically plan every second of our lives.  I don’t know where I’m going on any given weekend until I check my Facebook calendar.  But when you do decide to act, think about all the different options, their corresponding outcomes, and how they might affect your brand.  We could all benefit from incorporating a bit of strategy into our daily reasoning. 

Written by: Samuel Schack (Energy Management - Intelligent Platforms - Military & Aerospace / Huntsville, AL, USA)

Thursday
Dec122013

If You See a Turtle on a Fencepost...

“If you see a turtle on a fencepost, he probably didn’t get there by himself.”

The first time I heard that expression, it was during my commencement ceremony. The dean of the university was giving a speech and used that saying to illustrate the point that nobody gets where they are alone. No matter how independent or self-reliant a person is, someone, somewhere along the way, provided some help or support in one form or another.

As I was driving home from the airport after a training class last week, I thought about that saying and realized something. I am that turtle, and the fencepost is my role in the Commercial Leadership Program. After that realization, I started to think about all the people who helped me get on that post. Parents, relatives, teachers, professors, previous managers, so many people have helped me along the way that I sometimes lose track of how much of my success so far is due to the efforts and support of others. In our jobs, and life in general, we are often very busy and sometimes we end up taking things for granted. Even people get ignored or forgotten, no matter how important they really are to us.

Take a minute to think about who helped you get on that fencepost. Give them a call or send them an email letting them know you appreciate their support. It could make their day a little better. When I do something like that, I know I feel better about having recognized their part in my life so far. 

Written by: David Luna (Capital / Charlotte, NC, USA)

Wednesday
Dec112013

Favorite American TV Series of 2013 (So Far…)

Having watched terrible TV time and time again on local Australian Networks, such as channel 10, 9 and 7. Unfortunately, there are limited channel options to the average ‘Aussie’. Drastically different from the USA, where Australia’s best show ever produced is Neighbours (the equivalent of The Bold and the Beautiful only radically less bold and beautiful), our country has had a history of relying on American television for entertainment. Without spending money on paid TV, such as Foxtel, I am forced to resort to the internet for some enjoyable entertainment, 20-40 minutes at a time.

Presently, there is only Everybody Loves Raymond and The Big Bang Theory (typically on replay) on local TV that is sufficient motivation to not reach for the remote. Unless you are keen to watch some news onABC 24hr News, you will, like me, eventually have the urge to turn on your laptop and search for entertainment online.

As much as I am an avid fan of the pictures, I do like to limit the amount of time I spend after work in front of the TV, and by pursuing TV shows and series, I can achieve a sitting of ‘less than an hour‘ at night (unless two of my favorite shows have just been released, in which case I sit for another ‘less than an hour’ session).

 

The following shows are on my top list of TV shows on air at the moment, in no particular order:

-          Elementary – Drawn to the news that one of Angelina Jolie’s ex-boyfriend was the star of the show, I began watching intently the series of a ‘Sherlock Holmes’ twist, where an incredibly smart man is capable of solving crimes, with humor along the way.

-          The Mentalist – Similarly, another smart man, whose previous profession was that of a psychic, joins the CBI to pursue Red John, a mean and also smart character that murdered his family. BothElementary and The Mentalist provide truly sexy men, which every woman in their right mind would be attracted to. They have the great balance between bad boy and a smart and honest gentleman.

-          Drop Dead Diva – The story of a beautiful model who died and was then re-born into a less-attractive female lawyer’s body keeps me entertained to a level I never thought I would from a show like this. I would definitely call this my ‘girly show’. It has comedy and romance, and yes, it is ‘corny’.

-          Suits – Another lawyer show, this time a more masculine show about sexy smart gentlemen making it big in the corporate world. Practically every scene involves a man in a suit (yes, suits make men look sharp and more attractive) named Harvey. This man in a suit is featured in Sex and the City, and was the man that was friends with all the beautiful models. The name ‘Harvey’ is now one of my favorite male names, to the point that I may even name one of my kids after him.

-          The Vampire Diaries – One of the many vampires TV shows, exactly like the movie Twilight, only Kristen Stewart is not featured in the show. Enough said.

-          The Originals – A continuation of The Vampire Diaries, only in a separate show. Just as good as the ‘original’, I’m thrilled to have double the entertainment (this can lead to many more sittings of another ‘less than an hour’ session).

-          How I Met Your Mother – For anyone who does not know this show, I will just say that you are sheltered. It is one of the best comedies out there. I truly recommend this show. All I can say is that I am still waiting to find out how he met the mother.

Previous shows that will unfortunately only be launched next year:

-          Game of Thrones – One of the best sellers turned into a TV show, Game of Thrones is one of my favorites if I had to pick favorites. Becoming just as popular as the Harry Potter series, I am so glad that it is not a series of movies, and instead endless hours of entertainment. Not for those with a weak stomach, it is gory, but not to the extent of the Saw movies. I believe it is one of the most full on R rated TV shows I have ever watched.

-          True Blood – yet another vampire show, practically the same as The Vampire Diaries in terms of plotThe main character, Sookie, is probably recognized from the movie The Piano, however I personally recognized her from X-Men as Rogue (and so a tiny nerdy side of me pops out). I began watching this before The Vampire Diaries came out, so I consider this to be the ‘original TV show idea’, and then later the ‘teen target audience’ show came out.  One of my favorite parts of the show is the fact that True Blood is set in ‘The South’ of USA, and the main character has a thick southern accent. 

-          The Bachelor/The Bachelorette – A well-known series, now on their thousandth season, is (was) one of my secret addictions. Australia has launched The Bachelor Australia, and it is nowhere near as good as the US show. The whole point of The Bachelor is to see the drama unfold and perhaps Australia is too relaxed (having laid back BBQ’s all the time) to have enough drama. Needless to say that the most drama I have seen is the accidental drop of a BBQ rib (not really but you get the picture).

 

I know I have missed a fair few TV shows, however, as you are aware, my exposure is limited.

If you have any more TV show ideas, I would love to hear from you.

Written by: Meili Castaldi (Oil & Gas - Subsea Services / Jandakot, WA, AUS)