by Meridith Levinson

General Electric IT Executives More Receptive to Recruiters

Jun 26, 20072 mins

GE has been a great talent pool for companies seeking CIOs, but tough for headhunters to crack. That may be changing.

General Electric has long been known as an incubator of IT talent. Among the CIOs that the $163 billion company has groomed are Joe Eckroth (now executive VP at New Century Financial), Kathy Lane (now CIO of National Grid) and Mitchell Habib (now executive VP of global business services at Nielsen.) However, GE has historically been a difficult target for headhunters.

That’s changed, says Gerry McNamara, a partner with executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. “Now they’re willing to take our calls, and we’ve placed two [execs from GE],” he says.

Recruiters used to bump up against the generous compensation that GE employees received during the company’s heyday under Jack Welch, McNamara says, but since GE has fallen on tougher times, “that wealth-building opportunity is not there any longer.” Also, he says, as GE has skinnied down, fewer jobs exist inside the vast conglomerate. Finally, as long as Gary Reiner remains in his position as corporate senior VP and CIO, which he’s held since 1996, that slot is out of play. So GE’s IT stars are listening to recruiters’ pitches, and that’s good news for CIOs searching for talent.

A few GE IT executives have recently moved on:

Charles Cautley left his post as CIO of GE Capital to join gaming technology company GTech as its senior VP and CTO in May.

Dave Schoenholz went to work for ING U.S. Financial Services’ CIO Steve Van Wyk, as the insurance company’s head of infrastructure services. Schoenholz spent 12 years with GE, most recently as its global leader of infrastructure operations for its infrastructure shared services organization.

Lisa Hoffman joined Centex Homes in August 2006 as VP and CIO, after her stint as director of corporate systems at GE’s commercial finance division.