CMO50 #26-50: Suzana Ristevski, GE A/NZ
GE is going through one of its biggest transformations in history, transitioning from a predominantly financial services provider to a leading digital industrial company in key sectors such as mining, aviation, healthcare and oil and gas.
More than ever before, marketing will play a central role in driving this transition, says its CMO and head of strategy and growth for A/NZ and Papua New Guinea, Suzana Ristevski.
“There are three key elements to success: Provide market insights for making key strategic decisions; act as a catalyst for entering and establishing new markets; and strengthen the GE brand and reputation,” she says. “And of course, driving a transformative culture with our people will be at the heart of this.”
From the CMO50 submission
Business contribution and innovation
In her role, Ristevski has overseen unprecedented levels of change across GE’s portfolio. Over the past 10 years, GE has sold its media business, insurance business and plastics business, acquired over $100 billion in new assets in areas as diverse as oil and gas, healthcare, power and water. Today, GE is undergoing one of its biggest transformations in history, with the sale of GE Capital and a $19bn acquisition of Alstom, the global power generation and grid company.
As part of a renewed focus on becoming the world’s leading digital industrial company, Ristevski is responsible for finding new pockets of growth and improving top-line performance in this region. Her team focuses on translating market trends and insights into tangible opportunities and shifting the traditional sales approach from a mindset of “simply responding to tenders” to one where customer needs drive a holistic solution.
At the heart of this is the Industrial Internet.
Over the past 12 months, Ristevski has been tasked with rolling out a regional Industrial Internet strategy, utilising big data and software analytics to drive asset and operational productivity improvements for large industrial customers. She has been pivotal in driving a massive culture change among employees from selling just hardware, towards selling real solutions that drive productivity for customers combining both hardware and software. Today, GE has a pipeline of more than $50 million in software opportunities with customers here in Australia.
Software and analytics solutions are becoming increasingly important for customers as they look to reduce the costs of operation, extend asset life, reduce downtime or improve safety. GE is positioning itself at the forefront of this wave of disruption and Ristevski’s contribution to developing a strategy, securing funding and establishing local capabilities has been vital to delivering on this vision.
Modern marketing and customer engagement thinking and effectiveness
Depressed commodity prices, reduced global demand, increased competition and severe reductions in CAPEX have all resulted in the perfect storm of unfavourable conditions for industrial customers, particularly in O&G, energy and mining. While GE offers a range of products and service to serve these industries, they are being sourced from across seven standalone GE business units each with direct reporting lines up into their own global organisational structures.
This creates a challenge to coordinate a unified ‘one-GE’ approach to a local customer, and often we see multiple contacts approaching a customer at any time.
To help, Ristevski has been responsible for establishing and appointing key account managers (KAMs) for our largest accounts. The KAMs have responsibility for managing the breadth of the GE organisation, leveraging the entire ‘GE store’ to offer solutions and acting as a single point of contact for all customer facing activities.
By simplifying internal complexity and bureaucracy for a customer, this initiative is improving the ease of doing business with GE and driving new and repeat sales in a tough market.
Data and/or technology driven approach
GE is committed to evolving from a company that makes hardware to a company that makes hardware and software. This is based on the premise that every industry and company that is not bringing software to the core of their business will be disrupted.
As part of this change, Ristevski is working at the forefront of setting up local capabilities to deliver innovative analytics solutions for customers using large sets of data drawn from a proliferation of disparate sensors.
For example, the company is currently in the process of working with a large mining customer to deliver improvements in their operations by reducing unplanned downtime on their fleet of large haul trucks. Ristevski has led a team to identify and scope a FastWorks project with the miner to deliver a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) demonstrating the value that can be created by applying this technology.
Using data from the fleet of equipment, workforce systems, and across the entire mine-site, GE was able to deliver new insights on how to operate and maintain the trucks for best results. This project has helped to improve the customer relationship and will likely lead to similar diagnostic led engagements in the future.
Diversity is a key element in how Ristevski fosters innovation. She has established a marketing and strategy team with experience across a number of industries, both directly related to the industrial sector and beyond. This has brought a vastly different perspective to the type of insights and quality of recommendations produced. Creativity is a key part of the teams day-to-day with regular brainstorming sessions and open debate culminating in richer solution for stakeholders.
Many marketing and strategy projects are highly ambiguous and require an open-mind and innovative thinking in order to get results. Ristevski and her team have developed a reputation for taking on and delivering solutions to some of the toughest problems for the business.
This has translated to tangible results for GE in terms of improved awareness, engagement and sales conversion.