Kevin Hart is the Country Leader for GE New Zealand. He will be a panelist at the PwC Herald Talks - Innovation, in Christchurch on May 12 at The Piano.
1. In a nutshell, what is your role at GE?
I joined GE early in 2016 as GE’s Country Leader in New Zealand, as part of the company’s continued commitment and investment in New Zealand. I have oversight for all GE businesses in New Zealand covering Power, Water, Utility/Grid Solutions, Healthcare, Renewables/Wind Energy, Aviation, Transportation (locomotives) and Digital transformations.
2. What do you most enjoy about your role?
The diversity of the role is very exciting. Each day, I face challenges and opportunities across a vast array of GE’s business portfolios which I find fascinating. I love learning, so I’m accumulating a tremendous amount of new domain-based knowledge; bovine serum manufacturing processes, lactoferrin protein production in the diary sector, jet engine innovations in the aviation industry, through to cutting edge developments with wind generation, and GE’s digital and additive cloud & edge based technologies. GE is definitely not for the faint-hearted…it’s a fast paced environment and constantly evolving and adapting.
3. What is your favourite thing about New Zealand business people?
I love the ‘free-thinking’ culture of New Zealand business people where they have learnt to do things in their own way and break the business moulds. We are a long way away from most other countries, so businesses must be able to achieve their outcomes in ways that other business cultures might find odd. I think this attitude and culture gives us a point of difference; I guess it’s that old “number 8 wire” mentality that under-pins our society.
4. What does innovation mean to you?
Innovation to me is ‘thinking differently’ and trying new ways to solve problems. It may be a new kind of business model or commercial framework, or it may be a new product or market opportunity. We mostly think innovation is about inventing new technology, which it is, but it also comes in many other forms and manifests itself in numerous ways. Cultural change and adapting to new directions is also a form of innovation.
5. How has your career path changed from when you started out to your current position?
I started my career as an electrical design draughtsman, where I spent hours and hours learning to draw huge engineering drawings with precision styled ink pens and learning about high voltage electrical engineering. Drawing the plans with ink pens was quickly phased out in the early 1990’s when computer aided design systems became common use. Engineering has also been transformed; while most of the fundamental electrical design principles are unchanged, the way in which we apply these principles has. My career has constantly evolved to match these changes and over the years and I’ve tried to capture each new opportunity along the way. By having an adaptive attitude to my career, and a bit of risk taking along the way, I have enjoyed an amazing career.
6. What is your top tip to anyone looking to start their own company?
Having worked for large corporates, privately owned companies and start-ups, my advice is to let your passions drive your business, and don’t be afraid of seeking expert guidance along the way. We’re not experts in everything we need to do in business, so know your strengths and weaknesses; seek help and advice in the areas where you’re weak, and embrace the areas where you’re strong.
7. Do you have a motto that you stick to when it comes to how you do business?
“Hire for attitude, not experience”. You can always teach someone with a great attitude, but you can’t teach a great attitude.
8. If you could give your twenty-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Choose a career path that you have solid interest or passion in. Then go for it, and don’t deviate if it gets too hard. Persevere.
9. Who is your business role model and why?
Elon Musk is my current role model. His drive, passion and ability to see the future and take enormous risk are unparalleled. He is a true visionary.
10. What are you most looking forward to at PwC Herald Talks – Innovation?
Learning and listening about other business people and how they see their respective worlds and business challenges.
To view the full list of panelists and purchase tickets for the PwC Herald Talks - Innovation series in Auckland, Wellintgon and Christchurch, please visit the website.
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