Business class: Cultural adaptivity is integral to success, says Mark Hutchinson15 April 2015
He is one of General Electric’s (GE’s) most important talents, has managed one of the company’s most strategic markets, and has worked across the globe.
Yet “global” is not a term UQ Business School alumnus and former GE China CEO and President Mark Hutchinson is fond of when speaking about his success.
“The real skill is cultural adaptively,” he said.
“This is about understanding how business operates in Japan compared to China, Europe or the US; how team dynamics work; and how decisions are made.”
Hutchinson’s cultural adaptively was central to his appointment by GE earlier this year to integrate $17 billion worth of energy assets previously owned by French power generation and transmission company Alstom.
The role required moving from Shanghai to the different surrounds of Paris. Hutchinson is excited about the new challenge.
“This is the largest acquisition GE has made. It is complex, has a million moving parts and is a lot of fun.”
While Hutchinson’s attention has shifted to Europe, his time working in China over four years was both enjoyable and profitable for the company.
“When I started in the role in 2011, we recorded about $4.5 billion in sales. Now we are at $9 billion, and we are going to double that again in the next three years,” he said.
“China is the kind of place you can do that.”
Hutchinson said an extensive amount of research and development takes place there.
“In our team of 20,000 employees in China, about 5000 of those are engineers. We do a lot of research and development there, particularly in healthcare.
“Research and development tends to gravitate towards where your biggest markets are, so over time our innovation in China focused around CT and MRI machines.
“There are more MRIs sold in China now than in the United States.”
Hutchinson, who remains fond of his time studying commerce at UQ Business School, said his degree taught him important skills he still uses today.
“University study teaches you about researching: how to take a lot of data and decide what is relevant; and then how to use the data to make a decision,” he said.
"My experiences have helped me to gain a sixth sense about how things work and the context in which you conduct your business.
“The best leaders are able to take a lot of data and, by using their intuition, trust their gut in making a decision.
“That is the real skill.”
Mark Hutchinson, Bachelor of Commerce – ’86