General Electric (NYSE:GE) on Monday announced that John Flannery will replace longtime CEO Jeff Immelt as the conglomerate’s new top executive.
Flannery will take over GE on Aug. 1. GE said he will add the chairman’s title on Jan. 1, 2018. Immelt, 61, will stay with the company as chairman until his retirement on Dec. 31.
Here are three things to know about Flannery:
1. Global experience
Flannery rises to the CEO role after running GE’s healthcare unit. The 55-year-old executive began his tenure at GE in 1987 at GE Capital, where he worked on leveraged buyouts and ran the business in Argentina and Chile. He later moved to Asia, and then India, to take over those respective regions for GE Capital.
Flannery has spent almost half of his career living outside the U.S., GE’s lead independent director Jack Brennan noted.
2. Shaking up GE
Flannery oversaw some of the biggest changes at GE in recent years.
In 2013, Flannery was tapped to lead business development for GE’s corporate division. During that time, he led the $10 billion acquisition of Alstom’s power business, the largest buyout in GE’s history.
He was instrumental in the unwinding of GE Capital, which had become one of the largest providers of private label credit cards for retailers. GE spun off the retail finance arm into Synchrony Financial (NYSE:SYF), which is valued at $23.5 billion as of Monday. GE sold another large piece of GE Capital to Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC). The bank bought GE Capital’s commercial lending and leasing businesses, which held assets of $31 billion.
Flannery also worked on the sale of GE Appliances, which was acquired by Chinese manufacturer Haier Group.
3. 'Just thinking out loud'
Flannery has a gentler way of saying he disagrees with colleagues in the office.
“[The healthcare team] would certainly say at work, I say, ‘Hey, just thinking out loud,’ which is usually, ‘I’m about to disagree with you.’ But it’s a nice way to say that,” Flannery said during a town-hall meeting at GE’s new Boston headquarters.
“I say the same thing at home. My kids would say when we’re having a debate and usually, if I’m losing, I finish by saying, ‘Hey, I’m just saying.’”