Greener GE? Strictly business, says CEO during Carnegie Mellon visit
In a year when General Electric’s well-known appliance business is expected to struggle, help with the bottom line will come from an interesting source: wind turbines, of which GE is the world’s second-largest manufacturer.
Perhaps that’s why Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt identifies environmental technology as one of the corporation’s major growth sectors for 2008.
“I think society has just changed its mind about the environment,” he told a packed audience of students, faculty, and alumni at a CEO Forum sponsored by USA TODAY. And when that happens, business is well-advised to stay ahead of the trend, he added.
Under Immelt’s tenure, General Electric has launched “Ecomagination,” a public relations campaign aimed at creating sounder environmental practices. The company has also committed to reducing its own carbon footprint in anticipation of expected government regulation.
Immelt stressed that GE’s efforts are the result of “a business decision rather than a moral decision,” adding, “if this was only about reputation, I wouldn’t have done it.”
In discussing the company’s expansion into China, where a lack of environmental regulation has come under heavy criticism, Immelt pointed out that when the United States was growing its economy, it too cared little about conservation.
However, he said GE will urge China to work on its environmental practices, adding that the company would be more than happy to sell them the technology to help.
Immelt's appearance was sponsored on campus by the Tepper School of Business.