Our long tenure at GE has given us great respect for the enormous accomplishments of dedicated GE individuals and teams around the world over GE’s long history. We believed there were stories of many of these individuals and teams that needed to be told, and when we discussed the need, we said to each other “if not us, then who?” That launched us into the project late in 2007. Early on we decided to treat the full 100 plus year history and include many of the businesses that eventually became part of GE Healthcare. We also decided to build the story around the eras of each of the CEOs. The early CEOs were grouped into two eras called the “The Early Years” and “The Middle Years.” Starting with Jim “Walt” Nelson, each CEO’s era is treated individually and has had the CEO’s personal engagement in creating the story of his era. Jim “Walt” Nelson was an enthusiastic contributor to the book. Unfortunately, while he saw and approved the final draft of the Nelson Era section, he passed away in March 2009 in Milwaukee and, thus, was unable to see the final work.
For each era we started with the perspective of the CEO. We asked them to identify the top five defining events in their era and the people who most impacted those events. We then went to the individuals identified by the CEO to learn more of the story. While this approach helped us focus on the most important events as viewed by each CEO, it also necessarily excluded many important events, contributions, and people.
Common across the imaginative inventors and business leaders throughout the years was the capacity to “envision”. It has been the capacity to envision a technology development that would dramatically change how GE customers carried out their missions, or the capacity to envision a business strategy that would enable GE to serve more customers around the world. Today, these dedicated GE people are envisioning ways to reduce healthcare costs and improve quality while increasing access with lower cost products.
It is entitled “Envision–A history of the GE healthcare business.” It is called “a” history rather than “the” history because we fully recognize this work is neither comprehensive nor the definitive view. It is our hope that this work will inspire others to record their perspectives on this special business and its people. While significant effort has been given to ensuring that we have the facts and names right, we apologize for any errors that may have crept into this work.
About the authors
Leon Janssen started his career in GE Aerospace in 1967 before transferring to GE Medical Systems in 1972. He subsequently led the Physical Distribution Operation, Supplies and Accessories business, and Product Sales Operation, before being assigned to create Global Education Solutions. In 1999, he was named General Manager, Academic Accounts, with responsibility for the commercial and research relationships with key university-based customers. Leon ended his GE career in 2004 as Executive Vice President and General Manager, Global Funding Operation, where he directed the delivery of integrated healthcare project development and funding solutions for customers in emerging markets around the world. In retirement, he continues to support healthcare clients in management and leadership practices as an executive consultant with the GE Performance Solutions team.
Gene Medford joined the GE News Bureau’s Chicago office in late 1968 where he provided publicity/public relations services for a variety of GE businesses, including Appliance Controls, Appliance Motors, Commercial Equipment, General Purpose Controls, General Purpose Motors, Magnetic Materials, Metallurgical Products (Carboloy), Specialty Materials (Man-Made diamond), Specialty Motors, and Specialty Transformers. He soon began to work on the X-Ray Department account as well which quickly became his full-time assignment. He left the News Bureau in 1973 to start his own PR firm, Medcomm Associates, which relocated to Milwaukee in 1975. Over the following three decades, Gene served GE Medical Systems in a variety of marketing communications and related roles.