Q&A Reinaldo Garcia - President & CEO of GE Latin America
Multinational General Electric has invested heavily in Brazil to accelerate technology partnerships with Brazilian companies spanning multiple industries. Today, as the country faces urgent infrastructure needs, president and CEO of GE Latin America, Reinaldo Garcia, explains GE’s role in Brazil’s ongoing transformation.
The Report Company: What are your expectations for the Rio Olympics?
Reinaldo Garcia: We want it to be as big as possible. I have told the team that we should be able to do three to four times what London did for two reasons: first, we have already had a team in place for a year, which has given us enough time to be involved with the beginnings of the project. Second, there’s more infrastructure to be built in Rio than London required, so that should give us more opportunities from a project standpoint, whether it’s energy generation, health diagnostics and monitoring or water treatment; on the transportation side there’s signalling, aviation, logistics. We have many businesses and many opportunities. The legacy for Rio hosting the Olympics is about building more infrastructure. GE is an infrastructure company, so we provide many of the solutions.
TRC: In 2010, Latin America represented revenues of US$8.2bn for GE. How would you define the impact of Brazil within the region for GE?
RG: Brazil accounts for around 40% of the region’s GDP, and accounts for the same proportion of GE’s Latin American business. Growth has been pretty good in Brazil. In Brazil there’s enough critical mass that it’s kind of a continuous growth whereas in some other smaller markets it fluctuates from year to year. We experienced very nice growth in 2010 and 2011 and we expect this to continue in 2012 and beyond. The world economy is in a period of uncertainty but the good thing is that the build up of infrastructure in Latin America is driven by the needs of the countries, so the global economy has an indirect impact but not necessarily a direct impact. That’s why I see a continuation of projects around Latin America even though the world economy right now is not in great shape.
TRC: Brazil needs to invest in infrastructure for its development and resolve bottlenecks. How is GE going to ensure it is involved in as many projects as possible?
RG: All of our businesses are covering the opportunities. What we do in Latin America is no different from what we do in other parts of the world. Almost a decade ago, we realised Latin America was a very important market with pretty significant growth potential so we began to build capabilities in Latin America. Our principal markets are Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Venezuela. It’s really about the deployment of resources and understanding your sectors well. GE is in a lot of sectors, from aviation to transportation, locomotives to power generation and management, oil and gas, healthcare, lighting and financial services, so you have to have a resource allocation that allows you to be in the necessary geographies but that also allows you to see each one of these sectors with expertise and that’s what we’ve been doing.
TRC: What is your strategy for growth?
RG: Our principal focus is organic growth. We have the products and services that the region needs. The job of our commercial teams is to ensure that the costumers understand the features and functionalities of our solutions.
We also have a pretty big appetite for investments in Latin America, and certainly in Brazil. Our strategy, more and more, is to localise our capabilities in Brazil. The idea is that we translate the market needs. This is an important growth strategy for us; to be present, to have quick responsiveness to the customer and to interpret the needs of the market in order to develop the product to the market’s needs. We have made acquisitions in the region and we will continue to look at other companies. We’ll continue to grow by looking for certain things that can complement our portfolio. There are a lot of indigenous companies that are good, fast and innovative and if they fit our technology as an adjacency, we’ll look at them and if it makes sense we’ll buy them.
TRC: What do you look for in a potential acquisition target?
RG: This is an exercise that we do everywhere in the world, but generally speaking we look for companies that have a good and unique technology that complements what we have, with a good commercialisation capability. In some cases they are very local, so we take the technology through the GE network around the world.
TRC: On a personal level, how do you mesh GE’s American corporate culture with Brazilian corporate culture?
RG: I think the key thing is listening and really being in touch with your context and with the people that you are interacting with. Over a number of years, I’ve had a very diverse team so I’ve become accustomed to dealing with different nationalities. I would say that GE has evolved in that regard as well. Since 1985 when I joined the company, it has become more global. The culture and the influences of all these nationalities and markets today make up more of the thinking of the company.
TRC: In your opinion, what is the most striking element of the Brazilian way of doing business?
RG: Brazil has many opportunities. It is resource rich, weather favourable and has the largest amount of arable land in the world. It is one of the few large countries that is water rich and it has a large, diverse population. The context is very favourable. There are lots of challenges, but I think that the natural fabric of the country, the population and its history have contributed to a positive attitude throughout Brazil. The average Brazilian is positive, optimistic, entrepreneurial and creative. Brazilian entrepreneurs are fast; they get to their conclusions pretty quickly. This country offers a fast, adrenaline-rich, creative, positive environment for the business class.
TRC: GE prides itself on being innovative. In what sectors are you innovating in Brazil?
RG: Our research center in Rio has four pillars of innovation: sub-sea, in order to leverage the largest exploration of pre-salt oil in the world, which is taking place in Brazil; smart systems, that includes devices that are used in a variety of applications and have embedded software to analyze data and automatically take action based on the information collected, thereby making them “smart; systems integration, focuses on enterprise asset management, bringing all the data together in order to maximize utilization and performance; and biofuels to capitalize Brazil’s leadership in ethanol production and research. In biofuels, Brazil is a leader, so whether we’re talking about the technologies used in the process of making biofuels, or combustion technology or the utilisation of biofuels, this is the place where we want to be.
TRC: What is your ambition for Brazil?
RG: When you think about Brazil in the context of the world, it is truly one of the most important markets. I think that we can be even more of a great partner to Brazil, and this is a two way street. GE is very passionate and focussed on technology, and provides solutions to complicated challenges. All of these challenges are present here in a pretty significant way with regard to infrastructure, so we can bring meaningful and relevant solutions to the country which will in turn help transform our company.
TRC: What do you see as the potential impact of the Olympics on Rio?
RG: The transformation part about the Olympics is that it will leave a very important legacy for the city. Rio is a city known for its beauty, its football, its oil and it can also be known as the city that can execute.