United Way Young Leaders learn about a career of change, diversity, inclusiveness

United Way Yoong Leaders Group at GE Lighting-2

On October 25, more than 30 young professionals gathered at GE Lighting headquarters in Nela Park in East Cleveland to attend the United Way Young Leaders’ speaker series.

This installment featured Bill Lacey, president and CEO of GE Lighting. Bill, a 25-year veteran of GE, has lived in numerous cities other than Cleveland and started the talk by sharing that Cleveland is one of his favorite places.

“Cleveland has reinvented itself in a way that has to be noted,” he mentioned.

When change happens

It’s no secret that GE has gone through its own restructuring throughout the years. Bill mentioned that during his time at GE there were many tough conversations and hard decisions that needed to occur to enact change. He clearly stated that to create change in a workforce that transparency is key.

His strategy during organizational change was to keep innovation teams separate from those not involved in organizational change; waiting until there was “proof that the change was needed” before combining the teams together.

Standing out, making connections

Perhaps the best part of the whole talk was Bill acknowledging that while he was coming up in finance he didn’t always look like all the others in the room from a racial perspective. When he was asked by the group how he navigated that challenge, he mentioned that people are more alike than not, and they can look beyond superficial differences when they work together and get to know each other.

“It’s incumbent to realize that some people are uncomfortable, so I had to put myself in front of them, ignore it to some degree, and get done what needed to get done.” He also acknowledged that people sometimes feel uncomfortable stepping outside of their comfort zones, mentioning he often put himself front and center so that people would interact with him and get to know him.

During the Q&A session, Bill was asked about maintaining a positive work-life balance. He noted that there is a sacrifice, but “when you’re home, you’re home” and sometimes you need to draw a line in the sand even if it means taking a career hit.

He concluded the session encouraging those in attendance to give back to the community by finding where your passions are and finding a place to “enhance that passion.”


Watch the entire speaker series event with Bill Lacey from GE Lighting below.

 

Learn more about the Young Leaders
 

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