Digital Training Key to Staying at Forefront of Industrial Innovation

Staying ahead of your competition in today’s fast-paced, globally innovative workspace has never been more challenging. Businesses that want to stay ahead of their rivals do so by driving creativity and innovation through cutting edge technology that’s revolutionized the competitive workspace globally. General Electric (GE) Africa has made technology and innovation the cornerstone of its success by balancing its massive strides in driving technological advancements with a continuously updated skills training and development programme for its employees.

Cynthia Karago has benefited from this. She joined GE’s Digital Technology Leadership Programme (DTLP) after completing the company’s graduate Early Career Development Programme (ECDP). The on-job training and complex challenges that the DTLP provided gave her a chance to grow her digital and technical proficiency, and also start developing her leadership expertise.

“All my rotations were challenging,” says Karago.  “I had no prior experience
in any of the projects. My most rewarding experiences have been getting
to see the results of my work and being recognized for it.”

Having graduated from DTLP, Karago has already spent four six-month rotations working as a business analyst in GE Healthcare in Kenya, as an infrastructure project manager at GE’s Africa Innovation Center in South Africa, as a business solutions project manager in India and as a project manager with the Security & Crisis Management IT team in Michigan. She explains that every task is meant to push participants to meet unique challenges outside of their comfort zones so they can develop new skills and confidence. Currently, Karago is the Cyber Security leader for Sub Saharan Africa and very excited to take on the challenging role.

“I think the culture of giving insights [at] GE has been my compass,” says Karago.
“It’s great to deliver results, but insights help with defining “how” the job was done
which is often overlooked if we focus on what was done.

“I also had a chance to [interact] with the most brilliant tech leaders.
DTLP offers great exposure to senior leadership through numerous interactions –
I’ve met and interacted with all the Global Growth & Operations CIOs from all the regions, twice!”

Karago adds that, aside from the privilege of working so closely with industry leaders as a young professional, the experience also had a profound impact on her work ethic and the way she now runs projects. All these accumulated skills will prove incredibly valuable as she faces increasingly tough challenges as she escalates through the leadership initiative.

GE Africa’s start-up spirit towards innovation, backed by global-scale resources, has fed into its many career accelerator/incubator programmes for young future leaders which offers them an opportunity for a diverse career in multiple industries and locations, backed by a solid foundation in digital training and innovation.

DTLP taps into young talent with a penchant for information technology and software development coupled with a drive to develop and innovate products. It has channeled them into a two-year intensive programme to receive professional mentoring from top minds in the field along with virtual classes, hands-on training modules and real-world experience working on challenging projects.

The linchpin of the DTLP is the way it structures itself around fostering talent: for all trainees there is a global programme manager who is backed by individual business programme managers who guide the DTLP’s through their experience. Then you have regional and Hub partners who support the programme on a more sectional level and across the various GE businesses, and finally there’re assignment leaders who manage each individual DTLP’s work experiences and make sure they are developed through a scaled series on challenging work assignments.

The focus of all this intensive training ranges from a focus in data and analytics, user experience, security and risk, digital operations, architecture, and digital engineering – assignments, on the other hand, focus on figuring out how to apply technology to solve real-world business problems and development technical expertise while building leadership skills.

“GE is a leadership company investing in development throughout one’s career,” says Vera Ambeva, Senior Manager, Programme Management, GE Digital in Sub-Saharan Africa. “DTLPs work on things that matter to the world… [The programme] fosters talent by developing leadership, business acumen, technical expertise and personal attributes.

“The DTLPs are trained through rotations which provide challenging work with defined deliverables and a visible impact. They are given constant coaching and feedback as well as senior level visibility and exposure [including trainers from the Keller School of Business at Indiana University].”

According to Ambeva, GE’s initiatives to train digital and technology leaders has grown considerably over the years and the DTLP is actually the new consolidation (since July 2016) of two of its more successful programmes, the Information Technology Leadership Programme (ITLP) and the Software Development Leadership Programme (SDLP). The number of trainees has also increased exponentially over the years – in 2016 alone the DTLP programme trained approximately 350 young leaders globally.

With the DTLP, as with many of its initiatives, GE’s goal is to ensure its training experience is global and relevant, and that these cohorts of future leaders are comfortable with innovation and digital technology which is critical in maintaining their success and competitive edge.

GE’s goal is to become one of the top ten software companies in the world – by partnering their cutting edge hardware design with custom-made digital software, GE envisions that its products will bridge that gap between people, machines and technology to the benefit of the world around them.

In fact, having spotted the advancing gap in the market, over the years GE has been steadily transforming itself into a company with a strong digital solutions focus – these advances in the digital landscape are used to improve the effectiveness of its factories, streamline its ecosystems and enhance the digital products it provides its clients and partners.

“GE is committed to the continued development of new [digital] solutions,” says Ambeva.
“The fact that GE has such a deep understanding of its hardware, gives it an advantage of developing software products that will improve operation of equipment.”

For GE the combination of innovative solutions and continued evolving skills training for its employees is a smart bet for ensuring they remain a competitive force in the digital-technology industry. And with the DTLP serving as a pipeline for its future leaders at the forefront of industrial innovation there’s a strong possibility that the future could see it completely transforming the industry by connecting physical challenges with digital solutions.