"We Need to Be More Chinese than the Chinese": Interview with GE CEO "Nani" Beccalli-Falco

It seems that domestic companies, like Haier for instance, are fighting to innovate against companies like yours. Is this a place to develop innovations, for GE or anyone?

This country is not a producer of cheap things for the Western world. This country is coming up with technology, coming up with innovation. One million engineers graduate every year. They're going to do something.

Are you optimistic about the development of intellectual property here?

Now that they're beginning to develop their technologies they are becoming very interested in IP technology protection. I heard that once the government discovered the Olympic mascot toys were being counterfeited in Vietnam, they put strict intellectual property protection around them. It's developing.

What does GE and its technology mean for the developing world? And what does the developing world mean to GE?

The developing world means fast growth for GE. In terms of my environment—everything outside the US--the first quarter we grew by 22 percent. In the second quarter we grew by 24 percent. And this was driven very much by China, India, Southeast Asia. While we are talking about a slowdown of the economy, we continue to have this kind of performance, and the reason is because the slowdown is driven by the consumer. But the governments and the major customers continue to buy the infrastructure equipment that is necessary. This is long cycle kind of stuff. We continue to see spectacular growth.

How does GE's growth help the millions living below the poverty line in these developing countries?

Consider that Africa for us was nothing in 2001. In 2002, we sold 200 million dollars. Last year we sold 2.5 billion. Africa is coming up and is a very interesting part of the world. Under the influence of South Africa that part of the world is developing because of the commodities they have, the mines and so on, so there is a lot of money coming into the area. The biggest desalination plant we have in the world is in Niger. I think it's also fair to say that these investments in infrastructure technologies, and in sustainable solutions, help a lot in improving the quality of life in these countries.

Soon I'll be posting GE's detailed comments about clean coal in China. Stay tuned.

Photos by Alex Pasternack

Read more about GE's Olympic Games greening of Beijing and its general Olympic Games environmental efforts.

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