Prime View conducted a freewheeling interview session with Roger Martella, who has been leading a rigorous and integrated strategy for the sustainable development of General Electric as it relates to current concerns and developing trends in environmental, social, and governance (ESG). GE’s equipment helps provide 30 percent of the world’s energy and three out of every four commercial aeroplanes are powered by GE equipment, which is a well-known name in the development and innovation of conventional, renewable, and ground-breaking energy sources.
“I’m one of those lucky people who locked onto their sense of purpose as an undergrad and has been able to stick with it every step along the way. My zeal for striving to find ground-breaking solutions for the most difficult environmental challenges has been a constant throughout my career. I’ve been fortunate to have learned from the best mentors in public service—where I served as the Environmental Protection Agency’s General Counsel and a top environmental litigator at the Justice Department; from titans of the private sector who have taught me how to operationalize sustainability for success like a business; from colleagues in environmental groups where I serve on boards; and from academics where I teach on these topics”, , Roger Martella, said.
He credits his greatest strengths to the diversity of experiences he has had, which has allowed him to approach problems from the perspectives of many different stakeholders and design solutions that would benefit all parties involved. This results in long-lasting effects, which are more crucial than ever given the current global issues of climate change, the energy transition, and sustainability.
General Electric: Innovating since 1892
Founded in 1892 by Thomas Edison, General Electric is committed to innovating the technology the world needs to lift the quality of life for people everywhere. Today, GE is at the forefront of developing technology to address two of the most difficult problems in the world. First, supporting efforts to solve the energy transition and address climate change. GE is constantly innovating existing and breakthrough energy technology to decarbonize the energy sector while electrifying the planet, including growing access to reliable, sustainable, and affordable energy for 700 million people without access. Second, they are inventing the future of flight by innovating some of the world’s most complex technology, jet engines, to enable more sustainable aviation. GE’s innovation and technology are essential to combating climate change, navigating the energy transition, and improving people’s quality of life globally by facilitating access to energy and maintaining connectivity.
At GE, innovation and product development are tailored in order to suit customers’ unique needs. Its objective is to provide customers with the technologies needed to reliably enable the transportation and energy sectors while reducing their carbon footprints. Customers will succeed in this manner, benefiting the globe as well as their stakeholders, communities, and local economies.
The Key Motivation towards a New Beginning
After public service at the EPA and DOJ, Roger became passionate about working for GE. It’s well-understood the government is in a unique position to serve the public interest and find solutions to significant issues that improve the world, and Roger was always proud of his public service. He noticed a growing interest in businesses acting to be a part of the solution and bringing their resources to the table to achieve public good ten years ago while dealing with businesses at a law firm. He believed that a shift in how businesses can enable some of the more expansive results generally designated for governments was about to occur. He aspired to be on the cutting edge of this change. And Roger was confident that no business could have as much influence as GE has given its strategic investments geared towards tackling global issues, its global presence in 175 nations, as well as its size and operational rigour.
What Gives an Edge Over the Peers?
No other firm can match GE’s unmatched record of tackling today’s most difficult problems with the vigour, passion, and ambition of a startup. They are a 130-year-old firm that Thomas Edison created with the single goal of innovating the technology required by the globe to improve people’s quality of life. In the energy and aviation industries, GE has developed some of the most sophisticated and important technology in the world today.
“We embrace operational rigour, a lean philosophy, and a continuous improvement mindset in everything we do to succeed for our customers and our sustainability mission. Our focus today is on bringing the “best of both worlds” approach to our legacy with a startup mindset to enable everyone in the world to live a prosperous life. This includes having more access to energy for work, school, and healthcare; being able to fly to stay in touch with loved ones and jobs; and seeing progress with the effects of decarbonizing these sectors on climate change as we go forward“, shared the visionary leader.
The Significant Elements That Facilitated Roger Martella’s Development as a Powerful Leader
- The first rule is to approach obstacles head-on. I learned early on in my government career to put myself forward for the most difficult tasks, the ones that others avoided.
- Second, the privilege of being surrounded by the most inspiring people. Every day I learn something new from everyone I encounter, not just about how to do my work better but also about how to be a better person, leader, and mentor.
- Third—this is the most important life lesson I learned in my government service—my mantra is “It’s not about me.” When you take yourself out of the picture and focus on getting the best outcome for your stakeholders and your team.
The Industry’s Evolution Over the Years
The energy sector is transforming in real-time by increasingly becoming a united front toward shared goals of decarbonization and electrification. Increasingly, our customers and countries are united on two goals: (1) decarbonizing the energy sector over time to address climate change; and (2) electrifying their communities to grow access to reliable, sustainable, and affordable electricity. As nations seek to strengthen their energy security against emerging threats like weather disasters and cyber security, electrification has more recently become the driving factor behind the investment. However, the need for electrification also helps to reduce carbon emissions because these investments make it possible to produce clean energy with fewer emissions while also securing the grid for future electrification of other industrial sectors that will help to reduce carbon emissions.
Synchronising with the Latest Advancements
GE is at the forefront of developing the technology required to tackle some of the biggest issues facing humanity while improving everyone’s quality of life. One of their main objectives is to become a net zero firm by 2050 for scope 3 emissions, or greenhouse gas emissions from the products they sell such as energy generation equipment and jet engines. This demonstrates a commitment to invest in the technologies that customers need to decarbonize the energy and aviation industries by 2050 because they power 3 out of 4 planes and contribute to 1/3 of the world’s energy.
The Motivated and Invested Team for an Impactful Outcome
The GE team approaches every problem the firm faces with a high level of energy and a must-win mentality. They bring a staggering variety of experiences, opinions, and viewpoints to all they accomplish. This develops from GE’s distinct sense of purpose. “While we expect you to work hard, knowing your work is advancing such a critical sense of purpose as addressing climate change, growing access to energy for the underserved, and enabling all people to stay connected through aviation motivates us to fight for all the right outcomes day after day. We work as one team—seeking out the best skills and contributions by every person on the team regardless of experience, role, or background—making everyone invested in these impactful outcomes that align to a tremendous sense of pride and purpose”, quoted Roger.
A Glimpse of GE’s Future Plans
GE is successfully implementing its most significant business transformation in 130 years. The team is working to legally separate the energy company GE Vernova and the aircraft company GE Aerospace in early 2024, allowing them to fully focus on their respective important responsibilities. This comes shortly after GE Healthcare’s successful separation in early 2023, which in a short period of time pleased stakeholders and investors with its capacity to pursue its crucial healthcare mission with a single focus.
Define your sense of purpose as soon as possible and stay unwavering!