GE annual report shows struggles and successes, quantifies shrinkage

Satish Prabhakaran is shown at GE Research in Niskayuna, where he is a tech leader in hybrid electric flight research. PHOTO COURTESY GENERAL ELECTRIC

Satish Prabhakaran is shown at GE Research in Niskayuna, where he is a tech leader in hybrid electric flight research. PHOTO COURTESY GENERAL ELECTRIC

BOSTON — General Electric on Friday released its annual reports for a most unusual year.

With its game plan upended by COVID, 2020 became a year of rapid and forced adaptation for the conglomerate, CEO H. Lawrence Culp Jr. said in a letter to investors.

As reported during previous updates through the year, GE Aviation suffered significantly due to the limitations on air travel amid the global pandemic.

Healthcare adapted to produce tools to fight the COVID virus, GE Power made progress on the financial problems that plague it and GE Renewable Energy retained the top U.S. market position in onshore wind power for a second year in a row, with record business volume.

GE Power was formerly headquartered in Schenectady, the company’s birthplace, and the company still lists the River Road address on some of its forms. Most employees at the Schenectady/Rotterdam campus at the foot of Erie Boulevard work for the Gas Power segment; the Renewable Energy business also has a significant presence, with hundreds of employees at the U.S. headquarters of onshore wind operations.

GE’s global research and development efforts, meanwhile, are headquartered in Niskayuna.

General Electric’s 10-K report — the federally mandated annual report to investors — painted a numerical picture of the company’s progress.

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, GE dropped from:

  • $95.2 billion in revenue to $79.6 billion
  • 205,000 employees to 174,000
  • 70,000 U.S. employees to 56,000
  • 38,000 Power employees to 34,000
  • 6,750 unionized U.S. employees to 5,900
  • 190 factories in 37 other countries to 149 in 34 countries
  • 94 factories in 30 U.S. states to 82 in 28 states

The decreases in the workforce were the result of COVID, of continuing efforts by GE to cut costs, and of GE selling off certain businesses.

The impact of the company streamlining and downsizing was even greater in 2019, when GE dropped from 283,000 employees to 205,000.

GE’s annual report contained two local faces: senior engineer Donovan Buckley and scientist Satish Prabhakaran, both of whom work at GE Research in Niskayuna.

Prabhakaran is a technical leader in GE’s research work on electrical propulsion components and systems, part of the drive toward commercial electric flight. GE, which in 2020 announced it would exit the market for new coal-burning power plants, cited this among its decarbonization initiatives.

Donovan meanwhile is part of the GE Diversity Annual Report, which made a return this year. The native of Jamaica speaks in a video about the importance of representation of Black people in the scientific community and the importance of their past contributions.

The Diversity Report showed the following percentages in 2020 for representation in leadership, professional and total workforce:

COMPANYWIDE

  • Women 26% 26% 22%
  • Total minority 19% 23% 24%
  • Asian 11% 12% 9%
  • Black 3% 4% 7%
  • Hispanic 3% 5% 7%

GAS POWER

  • Women 19% 23% 16%
  • Total minority 18% 25% 24%
  • Asian 12% 12% 8%
  • Black 3% 6% 8%
  • Hispanic 2% 6% 6%

CORPORATE

  • Women 37% 32% 33%
  • Total minority 19% 35% 34%
  • Asian 14% 24% 23%
  • Black 2% 4% 5%
  • Hispanic 1% 4% 5%

GE Research employees are included in the GE Corporate totals.

Categories: Business, News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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