Two years in the life of a GE Researcher
My GE interview took place in the fall of 2003 (roughly one month before I was to defend my dissertation). I had a couple of academic and one other industrial research offer in hand and I decided to interview at GE against the advice of a faculty member friend. He had some experience with ‘Big Corporate America’ and it left a bad taste in his mouth. When I came onto campus at GRC in Niskayuna I came with the idea that I was going to satisfy my curiosity about GE and leave knowing I was going to take one of the other jobs.
The interview consisted of a seminar about my research followed by several personal interviews with people in PDS (the lab I work in) and the global technology leader. The first thing I noticed about the people here at the center was their amazing curiosity. During my seminar presentation people actively followed my work, asking many deep questions about my research. Here was a group of people I just met who were interested in me, and voraciously curious about my research. This was significantly different from all of my other interviews in the industry, which seemed less like an active exchange of ideas and more like the speed round on Jeopardy. The seminar ran long (which I have since learned is not unusual) and the personal interviews began.
I came with many questions about the ‘GE corporate culture’. Collaboration and curiosity were on my mind. At every turn I was amazed by the openness and candor of the people I met. These were real scientists with real curiosity. I left that day hoping that I would be offered an opportunity to work with the inquisitive, passionate researchers I had met there.
The next few months were a blur. Offer letter, dissertation defense, moving my family to Upstate New York, and the holidays (I took a full 2 weeks off before I started work).
In early January 2004 I began working at the Center. I was asked to provide technical support to a new company on a telematics product they were selling called VeriWise. Within a few months I had made myself familiar with the product and participated in the invention of an antenna (patent pending).
My project leader then asked me if I would mind going to Australia to test this tracking system on shipping containers. MIND? I jumped at the chance to have such an adventure. In addition to high adventure, this trip also offered an opportunity to find the answer to a burning question I have had for years about my bathtub and the Coriolis effect.
In no time, a friend and colleague and I were on a plane to the other side of the world. In 8 days of extremely hard work (and at least 3 all-nighters) we had worked out all the technical kinks and the containers were fast on their way home to the US. It’s then I learned a valuable lesson about the hard working people in my lab (many of whom spent many hours on the phone with me working on this global installation). They know how to work hard – and they know how to have fun.
This trip was only the first of many adventures I have had here at GE with my coworkers in the Pervasive Decisioning Systems Lab. In the next 18 months I would, among many other things: meet hundreds of customers, visit mission control for a satellite company, make two presentations to the president and CEO of a GE business, go to several conferences, take a cruse on Lake George with a hundred of my coworkers, go a white water rafting down the upper Hudson river, and participate in the successful launch of a new GE business.
Through all the hard work and adventure over the last two years I have gotten a sense that the leadership here at the center is truly concerned about my career and my happiness. I have had many discussions with my manager about how I can use GE to best serve my career and how my career can best serve GE. I am confident that the next two years will be as rewarding and exciting as the last.