GE spinoff's goal to resonate at a local level

October 06, 2023 | 15:24
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Last year, General Electric underwent a significant transformation by splitting into three separate companies: GE HealthCare, GE Vernova, and GE Aerospace. As the spinoff unfolds in the Vietnam market, Rania Rostom, head of GE's Global Communications and Marketing, talked to VIR’s Linh Le about the profound implications and shared insights on the company’s strategies during this pivotal phase.

What were the factors influencing GE's strategic choice to divide into three separate entities?

GE spinoff's goal to resonate at a local level
Rania Rostom, head of Global Communications and Marketing, GE

Back in 2021, we made the announcement to split into three independent industry-focused companies: healthcare, energy, and aerospace. When we look at the driving force behind that decision, it boils down to focus and driving growth for customers around the world.

Being focused allows us to increase values, drive operational improvement, and capital allocation. While GE were leaders in these various sectors, our separately traded companies can do more with this focus, which is of value to the customers and to the marketplaces that we operate in.

The exciting news is that we are going to have three GEs in Vietnam. GE HealthCare is already an active and independent company, and in early 2024, we will have GE Aerospace and GE Vernova.

From a market perspective, we build on that history of investment, footprint, and manufacturing. From a brand point of view, it is the legacy of innovation and inventiveness that will continue to be driven. In short, with focus, we see increased growth and value for our stakeholders and customers in Vietnam and around the world.

Following the spinoff, which of the business segments do you perceive as having the highest growth potential within the Vietnamese market?

Once each company is independent, things will be done differently. The companies are going to build their own path to growth, and the shape of how they want their market operations to expand and to grow lies within those operating companies.

This goes back to my earlier point, that the decision to split into three companies gives each the independence to run at the speed of the market, which increased value and growth for the stakeholders, customers and the companies.

From a market perspective, how do you anticipate this will impact GE’s visibility in Vietnam?

We have a strong leadership team here in Vietnam. As we have operated throughout the world, we have learned that a strong local leadership team makes all the difference because they understand the marketplace, government needs, what needs to be carried out, and how to do it.

Even with the spinoff, that has not changed. The commitment and presence are still there. We take great pride in the fact that our sites and operations in Vietnam deliver products not only for Vietnam but also for the world.

That signals the reality that the team on the ground is capable, and that is only enforced now that we have three business arms in the market.

Such a major corporate restructuring often has significant implications for internal and external communication. How did your team manage the process, both within the organisation and with external stakeholders?

When we made the announcement, the question on everybody's mind was: what is going to happen to the GE brand? We went on a very robust research exercise to understand the sentiment and perspectives of our investors, customers, stakeholders, and employees. The conclusion was that there was incredible value in the equity of the brands.

With that, it was decided that each of the companies will carry the GE name and bring with it the legacy of innovation, and at the same time, the new naming of each company sets forward a new beginning in strategy and architecture in the go-to market. That was how we brought that exercise alive in each of the markets.

My team around the world took the global framework and we made sure that we took the message deep into each local market. They helped explain it and reiterate that the three companies will have the same commitment, the focus on localisation, and the sense of pride for the employees working in each country.

It was a very exciting time for us. When our employees could suddenly see our new monograms and new colours, it started giving them an idea of our way forward. For GE Vernova, it’s the energy to change the world. For GE Aerospace, it’s the future of flights, transporting people safely and bringing them back home. And with GE HealthCare, it’s a world where healthcare has no limits.

People then understood what this transition could mean for them, and how they could further the mission within their respective company.

How does your team approach marketing and communication strategies for GE's wide portfolio, and what is your strategy to resonate with diverse cultural and regional audiences?

Personally, I am passionate about balancing global narrative with contextual understanding of a local culture and market. It's both art and science.

I believe that there should be a framework we have to think about. First, what are the global themes that are anchoring the brand values or strategy of the company? Then, you look at it through a local lens: what does it mean to the socioeconomic fabric that we are living in?

For our team, it’s about finding the perfect balance between bringing the story alive and respecting the global brand architecture and themes, while embracing the contextual cultural understanding. A key ingredient is a thorough understanding of that.

At the end of the day, you want the story that you tell and the work that you do to resonate with your local customers, and the only way to do this is to turn local insights into windows for your stories and capture that magic on the ground.

What advice do you have for young professionals aspiring to work in global communications and marketing roles, especially in large multinational organisations like GE?

Technology is a game changer for the younger generation embracing the field. In addition, with everything that's happening in the world today, there’s this sense of urgency around critical issues like climate change, energy transition, and access to healthcare.

It gives communicators and marketers a canvas to think about what their role is in shaping and telling the story on these critical themes for society and for the world at large.

Young communicators nowadays have the opportunities to not only tell the story, but also to shape it. These issues and the pace at which they're becoming urgent opens up the door for a new generation that wants to embrace this field and play their role at a higher level. And I think that's a tremendous opportunity to create impact.

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By Linh Le

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