A hyper-international goliath, General Electric is courted by almost every location in the world, all of whom would love to have a GE facility of some kind in their jurisdiction. But what does it take to get on GE’s shortlist of potential investment destinations?
“One thing we look for is strategic vision: where is the country heading? What are their aspirations, and how can we align our capabilities to those aspirations?”, says Dr Dalya Al Muthanna, president and CEO of GE Gulf.
“We recently revamped our GE Values [GEVs] to the 'GE Beliefs' to better align ourselves to the fast-paced and volatile world we live in. One of our beliefs is that customers determine our success. This drives us to ensure we have a clearer understanding of what our customers need. Once we understand that, we can become better aligned to those needs and we start to think about what we need to do more of to support our customers. Do we need to localise some of our operations? Where should we be investing more? Whether in terms of our talent, our technology or in terms of having the right resources on the ground.”
Ms Al Muthanna develops the business strategy for the Gulf region for GE, and leads the overall strategic positioning of GE in the Gulf. She joined the company in 2008 and was the company’s first United Arab Emirates national to graduate from GE’s Experienced Commercial Leadership Program; she has clearly climbed the ranks quite quickly. Before joining GE, she founded and managed a multi-million dollar international franchise.
One country whose aspirations match of with those of GE’s is Ms Al Muthanna’s home country, the UAE, where the company employs 2000 people across roughly 20 sites. ““What excites me the most is the continuous drive for innovation,” she says. “[The UAE] has launched a set of ‘future accelerators’ to make sure they accelerate the process of achieving their goals and bring emerging technologies closer to today. Supporting their vision is very exciting for us because GE is also going through a transformational period that emphasises innovation and disruptive ideas. We’ve established a new business, called GE Digital, that's going to drive the industrial internet and help us achieve our vision in becoming the first and largest digital industrial organisation.
“If you look at the UAE, there are a lot of investments in smart city initiatives: smart services, faster and agile operations as well as initiatives such as 3D printing. Dubai wants to position itself as the global hub for 3D printing. GE is also seeking to drive the 3D printing future; we are currently in a bid for an acquisition of two 3D printing companies in Europe, with more than $1bn in investments. That will increase the use of 3D manufacturing into GE and would help us expedite the process of manufacturing, reduce wastage and democratise manufacturing.”
The industrial internet
In line with these strategic goals, GE is developing its own platform, called Predix, which Ms Al Muthanna describes as “kind of like the iOS platform for the iPhone, but this is a platform that will drive the industrial internet”. Predix will make use of data from everything from aircraft engines and power plants to healthcare equipment in hospitals, allowing analysis to optimise industrial operations.
In the Middle East region, GE has partnered with governments, the aviation industry, energy producers and healthcare companies, and is now focused on combining big data with big machinery through a collaborative approach. “It’s been a really great journey for us and we look forward to continuing this journey with our partners and together to unfold what's coming next,” says Ms Al Muthanna.