Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sharing Memories - GE Traveling Auditor - Schenectady

Sharing Memories - GE Traveling Auditor - Schenectady

As I have said many times over the years, "I got a solid ten years of powerful business experience in that 'little over a year' on the GE Traveling Auditor staff." True or not, it certainly felt like it. Of course, my family and I were dealing with some serious family issues during this period, as well, as I discussed last Sunday.

Once I got through the 'orientation' process, in town, the 'normal' process was a three-month audit in a distant location with only a week-end at home each month end. We tended to work ten-twelve hour days, on the road at a GE facility. We not only did the financial audit, under the auspices of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, & Co (as the CPA firm was known at that time), the official GE auditors, but we did a full operational audit of the operations under review, as well. So, not only did we learn the accounting procedures, we learned the entire operations of each unit. It was a fantastic, incomparable opportunity to learn 'best practice' business operations - or not, if it was not a great unit, of course [of course, there were NONE of those at GE! ;-) Silly me to even suggest...].

I want to briefly mention two people that, to me, represent both the quality and the depth of the experience. Reginald Jones, a future GE CEO, was on the corporate audit staff for eight years; as CEO, he was the one who selected Jack Welch to succeed him. Here is his Wikipedia link; the link on his name is to the GE write-up. He was the Financial V-P to whom the Traveling Auditors reported, during the time I was there. I never met him. Note on GE bio - he started in the same BTC program I did, but he started in the year I was born!  ;-)

OK, three guys… Gerald L. Phillippe was the CEO at the time I was with GE. It was his son-in-law who was in my program, a friend and colleague, in Louisville. Phillippe was born in Ute, Iowa… not even a stop-light in the town, perhaps.

The most directly influential on me, and I not only met him, I had a three month audit directly under his supervision as a junior member of his team: Lawrence A. ("Larry") Bossidy. He is generally credited with founding, and he did serve as Chief Operation Officer of, General Electric Credit Corporation; a major contributor to the success of Jack Welch as GE CEO. Bossidy later served as CEO of Allied Signal/Honeywell.

I have often described my impression of Larry, from my first hand experience: "He was the singularly most devoted person to his work assignment of any person I have ever known." Larry was one of our four 'top leaders' on the GE Traveling Auditor Staff, while I was there. Much like Jones was his last 4-5 years, I assume. Bossidy ran the audit in Phoenix, Arizona, at that time, the GE Computer Division - it was later sold off. This was Apr-May-Jun of 1968. 

A few days after returning from the end of May home visit, the team had gone to the 'new' movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), as I recall. When I came out, I got in a phone booth, and called Nancy saying I had decided it was going to be time to 'move on' when I could arrange for a new job. Besides the rigors of the traveling, it was becoming obvious, that even if I stayed on, and was successful, the job I would be earning the opportunity to be considered for in GE would be in a GE plant on the east coast. That was simply not what I saw as a future we wanted to have.

To be continued…

Families are Forever!  ;-)

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