General Electric CTO Abate Touts Strategy Amid Struggles

General Electric shareholders have seen better days, but the company’s CTO, Vic Abate, is convinced that a strong tech strategy will help lead the company to a brighter future.

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Abate, who has been with GE for over two decades, currently heads the company’s global research, engineering and product management teams as an SVP and chief technology officer. Prior to his role as CTO he held management positions in the company including President and CEO of GE Renewable Energy and President and CEO of Gas Power Systems for GE Power.

But Abate most likely remembers more profitable days from his earlier time spent in the company. Shares of GE have tumbled below $14 in 2018 and there have been changes in upper level management, including the departure of longtime CEO Jeff Immelt in 2017.

The company, under the leadership of new CEO John Flannery, has undergone a “reset year” in 2018. In Abate’s view, this is more about a resharpening of focus on the things that have made the company so successful: a commitment to technology and ideas, and to developing new ideas as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible.

Now, with a pair of research centers in Bengaluru, India, and New York, Abate is looking to capitalize on the company’s deep bench of tech talent to help it recover from a less than stellar few years.

According to Abate, a key metric for success among his team in this challenging landscape is the rate at which new technologies are adopted. With a massive company like GE which has decades of history behind it, the challenge, as Abate sees it, is to remain in a state of constant disruption.

Thankfully, the diversity of the company’s holdings, from industrial engineering to healthcare, jet engines and additive machining help to cross pollinate ideas. Technologies and frameworks that are successful in one division can be taken and adapted to another for optimal impact. At the lead in all this is a commitment to fast prototypes which Abate sees as essential to the process of development. Only time will tell if the strategy proves effective, but for now, Abate seems confident it will.