STEM Woman Leader of the Day- Charlene Begley (GE)
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on October 19, 2012
Charlene Begley- President & CEO, GE Home & Business Solutions; Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, GE
GE Home & Business Solutions is an $8.5B business that includes appliances, lighting and intelligent platforms. AS CIO, Begley is responsible for GE’s Information Technology organization and co-leads GE’s Software Council. She also leads GE’s Sourcing Council and is a member of GE's Corporate Executive Council. Begley joined GE in 1988 and progressed through leadership roles including vice president, GE Corporate Audit Staff and president and CEO for several GE businesses including GE FANUC Automation, Transportation, Plastics, and Enterprise Solutions. Begley graduated from the University o fVermont. She and her husband have three daughters.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
With the U.S.ranked 17th in Science and 25th in Math among 34 industrialized countries, it is critical to continue to focus on STEM education. This will help increase our competitiveness and improve the talent that makes up our workforce. For GE, innovation is at the core of everything we do and STEM careers are crucial to our success.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
Senior leaders should think about STEM advancement as we do business growth – what can we do to drive continuous improvement and ensure that we are achieving the results we need. For example, MC2STEM High School in Cleveland, OH is a product of GE and the community thinking outside of the box and taking an innovative approach to education. As a result, we have the first STEM school in the country embedded in GE Lighting’s Nela Park Campus.
What is your concept of mentoring and sponsorship of others for STEM careers?
Mentoring is something in which all leaders should participate. We should encourage students to pursue STEM careers, as these careers are the foundation of business and innovation. The best way to help students gain a better understanding of their career options is by seeing these jobs in action. In collaboration with MC2STEM, GE Lighting works to provide students the knowledge and expertise in these fields by partnering them with employee volunteers who serve as buddies and mentors and who provide insight and expose them to educational pathways and career opportunities available. MC2STEM High School gives students exposure to the real-world work environment and culture through hands on experience. Our GE volunteers work directly with the students through tutoring, a buddy program, job shadowing and a simulated New Product Introduction project developed and taught by employees.
What about STEM gives you passion?
Each time I visit the school in Cleveland, I am energized to see the students applying their knowledge and bringing ideas to life. It is great to see the students get excited in one of their unique capstone projects or working in the MIT Fabrication Lab, the first High School “Fab Lab” in the country. By doing the work versus just reading about it, the students are benefitting from hands on experience and actually applying knowledge to solve real world problems.
Of what one initiative you are most proud?
I am proud of the STEM schools and their success. While excelling STEM schools are located all across the country, I take particular pride in the fact that MC2STEM High School is located on our GE Lighting Nela Park campus. This is the first known high school, let alone STEM school, to be located on a corporate campus. We are working to give students first-hand experience and exposure to the real-world work environment and culture. Our GE employees collaborate with MC2STEM staff and students to provide current and real ideas and expertise to project-based learning.