GE has been cooperating with IBS for a couple of years, however this is the first time that the high profile multinational company participates in the induction week. The interview with Senior Manager Zoltán Gábor was conducted on this occasion.
Zoltán Gábor has been working for GE for 24 years, his current position is Global Operations Shared Service Supply Chain Finance Manager. Right after school, he started his career at GE and stayed there, thanks to the opportunities provided by the international company. During these 24 years, he worked in various supply chain positions, Plant and Site Manager, among them, for 10 years. He participated in one of the leadership programs, was also part of career accelerator initiatives, like the Six Sigma Black Belt and the Lean Leadership Development Program. He has quite diverse experiences in four business units (Lighting, Plastics, Healthcare, Global Operation), in three countries (Hungary, Netherlands, France). He is always ready to mentor, to share his vast experiences. Along with Jörg Bauer, CEO for Hungary, he is the head and the coordinator of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) of GE Hungary. Good company culture is very important for GE, therefore he works together with HR to share his experiences with fresh graduates in this field as well.
What kind of experiences do you have with IBS?
We set up various programs to help university students. The HR department manages our employer branding and our relationships with universities. We have been present at career days and we try to attract IBS students to come to GE. We already have several great IBS graduates. Our Eastern European HR manager Soma Demény is a former IBS student. Also, we have some CSR activities where we co-operate with IBS. One is called “Students meet GE”. We invite students to GE, we show them our multinational company, let them have an insider’s view. Sometimes we also invite them to work with us on a specific and real company problem, this kind of programs are called “Pro Bono”, skilled based volunteering. This is also managed by a former IBS student, Mátyás Filippi. We try to leverage our connections, build opportunities for students, who understand GE company culture, and we would like to see how we can attract them to come and work for GE.
Do you want to, and if yes, in what ways to extend and enrich your IBS connections?
GE is a very innovative company, not only in its products but also in its approaches. Skilled based volunteering is useful not only for the students but also for the development of our employees. If we have these types of outside-of-work events, they help them to grow. It is a win-win-win situation. Some of our colleagues come here to IBS for the opening, and we can also provide students some kind of extra insider’s view, we can have more discussions about what CSR is, how we can make an impact on our community.
How would you describe your expectations?
I would put the expectations in light of GE’s culture. In GE, we have a very open environment, people are free to challenge the status quo, to put questions, to be active and engaged in these activities. Students are stimulating us if they are active, put questions, challenge us, inspire us, provide us fresh eyes. We have a big internship program at GE Global Operations with more than 150 interns. I would challenge IBS students to come to us, to work with us for a shorter or longer period of time. We have various types of activities, not just in finance, where I work. We also have a multifunctional centre in Budapest with 2500 people, so we can grow our student pool, intern pool. Mátyás Filippi, or Matt, whom I mentioned earlier, was working for me, now he is part of a leadership development program. He started as an intern, then he was hired as a permanent employee, and after that he was promoted as a leadership program member. You can see that in a short time frame there is opportunity to accelerate your career. You need to understand what the requirements are, and how you can fulfil them the most. So GO FOR IT J! It is a really dynamic environment. If you are sitting in a corner it would not work. You have to go with the flow, and sometimes you create the flow, have new initiatives, like Matt does all the time!
I think it is a good match between IBS and GE, we would like to have a great enlargement of this student pool, already at the internship phase. If somebody has an experience at GE and delivers well, it is likely to be hired but it is just an offer from our side, if the students want to do something else, they can. We also take in foreign students not just Hungarians. In our current centre, we have about one third of the employees from foreign countries. It is a multicultural environment, with about 50 nationalities, speaking 40 different languages. Working for GE is an opportunity also to learn about different cultures, different languages. We are encouraging to set up language clubs, learning different cultures and working together, resolving problems together.
I am managing 75 people now, and up till not so long ago, I had ten interns from various universities. Some went back to complete their studies, so we are hiring again J. We like diversity, everybody is bringing in a new perspective, and new experiences, knowledge, innovations. Although GE is a large company with about 300,000 employees, it is also like a start up, we are very innovative and we intend to move fast. In a diverse environment we complement each other and we go faster and deeper together.
What kind of students do you expect?
Students with an innovative mind-set who are fast learners, and hard workers, as well as creative. Sometimes you need to sprint, sometime you need to run the marathon, and these require different mind-sets.
GE held a workshop during the induction week
We were here for the opening picnic, and also the following day and the day after. The picnic afternoon was more for informal chatting, meeting with the students, people, we could have some kind of instant coaching, as well as some questions to understand how students are thinking, what they expect from life, if they worked for a company what they would be interested in. We would like to understand them, as well as giving them feedback. With Matt, I lead a CSR event, a workshop with the students. There were several other sessions with other colleagues from GE, where students could practice their negotiation skills or try themselves in mock-interviews. We hope to have made a big impact on the students, as these sessions seemed to be very popular, they raised interest as they were fully booked, fully registered. On Wednesday students came to GE, we showed them the environment that inspires us day by day, they had a coaching session around goal settings, how to set up and follow-up priorities effectively. As GE goes through a significant transformation, we show them what we are doing nowadays and the direction we have been aiming to move forwards. Leaders from various functions like Finance, Sourcing, HR, Commercial and IT joined us at lunch so that students could get an opportunity for networking and getting to know different stories, perspectives. After all these, we hope IBS students learnt a lot about GE and life in a multinational company. Our journey together may continue. I had a nice talk with Kenneth Umeh Student Support Manager, and we think we could support his mentoring program, too. So, see you soon!