Interview with Canan Özsoy, President and CEO of General Electrics Turkey



Canan Özsoy was born in Istanbul, Turkey. She attended the University of Istanbul and graduated with a doctorate degree in Dental Medicine and worked as a Doctor of Dental Medicine until she joined the pharmaceutical industry where she worked on various marketing and commercial leadership roles. In 2007 she joined General Electric Healthcare andshe was appointed as President and CEO of GE in Turkey, responsible for GE's growth there as a leading emerging market in August 2012.


At the upcoming Turkish-German Innovation Summit in Istanbul, the Global Success Club is proud to welcome Canan Özsoy as participator of the II. Turkish-German Innovation Summit 2017. There she will be part of our Session "Manufacturing is going digital - Industrie 4.0". To give all Summit participants a little taste of what is to come at the event, Mrs. Özsoy was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.


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GSC: General Electric (GE) is one of the biggest and most profitable companies in the world and has been a pioneer of innovation since its very beginnings with Thomas Edinson. In more recent times, we have heard that GE has set the goal of becoming the world's first Digital Industrial company. Can you please tell us a little more about these plans to digitalize and how the transformation is being handled in Turkey?


Canan Özsoy: The operating climate for industrial companies has never been more challenging. Consumer products manufacturers are faced with cost volatility, shrinking profit margins, and constantly changing buyer preferences. Heavy equipment manufacturers are challenged with compressed cycle times, increased price pressure, and demands for customization. By 2020, 10,000 gas turbines, 68,000 jet engines, more than 100 million lightbulbs and 152 million cars will be connected to the Internet.  At GE, we have decided to generate and model this data ourselves - both inside the Company and with our customers. This is what we mean by becoming a Digital Industrial. Our Digital Industrial capabilities will expand our growth rate, improve our margins and bring us closer to our customers. Last year, GE launched GE Digital business, the foundation for its transformation into the world's largest digital industrial company.  


As Jeff Immelt GE's Chairman and CEO, underlined in Minds+Machines Conference in 2017, digital transformation is non-negligible trend for today's world. Immelt claims that the world economy faces the slow growth, volatility and uncertainty. That's why; business atmosphere should be productive, innovative, adaptive, and resilient. Immelt emphasizes that; digitalization is a transformation not a task. This transformation is all-encompassing change.   


Perspectives shows Turkey have a big potential being open to digitalization and innovation. According to 5th GE Global Innovation Barometer, we see Turkish executives are more optimistic about Industrial Internet Revolution comparing to other countries. 71 percent of Turkish companies - following a substantial innovation strategy - is an indicator of significant development.  According to the GE Global Innovation Barometer, 83 percent of Turkish executives had yielded an increase in profitability through collaborative innovation activities. The findings prove that Turkey has a great potential to stand out with global innovation projects by tapping into local innovation.


At GE Turkey, last year in November, we launched the GE Turkey Innovation Center, an outcome of our commitment to support local innovation in Turkey and help our country achieve its objectives. Paving the way for a platform of collaboration for a wide range of business fields in Turkey, it serves as a business incubator, accelerating substantial solutions; therefore, it will assume a major role in the growth of Turkish economy through innovation.


In our culture, there is a GE Store where every business in GE can share and access the same technology, markets, structure and intellect. In Turkey, we organize the FastWork with our customers to understand their needs, challenges and develop solutions for our customers' problems. FastWork approach makes us more flexible, faster and simplified.


GSC: As Innovation is crucial to run a business successfully, GE has installed R&D Labs all over the world, with one even based in Munich. Can you explain what steps GE takes to foster innovation in the company and in what ways it works together with governmental and scientific institutions to insure its continuation?


Canan Özsoy: GE is improving customer value and driving advancements across industries. GE's approach to open innovation is helping to address customer needs more efficiently and effectively. We believe openness leads to inventiveness and usefulness. We also believe that innovation means a creating new business model. This business model can provide sustainable and profitable solutions to meet customer problems and increase the productivity. Also this model can be creating new products, improving the business process and even improving the old products and be remodeling the manufacturing process which is a significant innovative step. At past, all companies developed their products behind the closed doors by themselves, so process took a long time. But now, with digitalization, time is very fast flowing. Open-innovation is becoming crucial for huge companies.


GSC: GE was awarded "Top Employer Engineers 2014" in Germany and, according to the jury of the German Sustainability Award, has one of the three most sustainable future strategies in Germany with "ecomagination". Being that GE is a global company, it is safe to imagine that Germany is not its only focus on innovation. Can you please tell us what efforts the company is taking in Turkey to incorporate "ecomagination" in its future strategies?


Canan Özsoy: As being one of the leading digital industrial companies in the world, finding sustainable solutions to reach the basic needs such as energy, water, and health is our priority.


Ecomagination is GE's growth strategy to enhance resource productivity and reduce environmental impact at a global scale through commercial solutions for our customers and through our own operations. As a part of this strategy, we are investing in cleaner technology and business innovation, developing solutions to enable economic growth while avoiding emissions and reducing water consumption, committing to reduce the environmental impact in our own operations, and developing strategic partnerships to solve some of the toughest environmental challenges at scale to create a cleaner, faster, smarter tomorrow.


In today's world, there is an approximately 150 GW installed power. However, we expect that it will be more than 200 GW because the demand increases day by day. On the other hand, these power plants can be easily set up and financed at lower prices. Even, by implementing our industrial internet platform, many power sources can be connected with each other. By 2015, we invested $17B on R&D and up to 2020, we aim to invest $10B additional on R&D, 12% decrease on Green House gas emission and 20% decrease on clean water consumption.


GSC: As well as being President and CEO at GE Turkey, you also spend your time at TÜSİAD, which is a voluntary business organization of leading entrepreneurs and executives that aims to create "a social order based on the competitive market economy, sustainable development, and participatorydemocracy." What sort of activities have you been involved in there to help achieve the goals of the organization?


Canan Özsoy: As GE, we are not an official member of TÜSİAD but we have been participating at their events. To represent GE, I was one of the speakers TÜSİAD's Turkey's Industry 4.0 Transformation Conference. At the conference I highlighted the significance of digital transformation in Turkey in terms of economic development, competitiveness and job creation.


According to GE, digital industrial transformation not only requires investment but also requires cultural transformation. Digital industrial transformation has negotiated quite easily in banking and IT business in comparison with healthcare and education.   


It is supposed to invest to infrastructure and new technologies, to change the way of thinking, necessary policies and business models, and to provide working with open standards. To provide highest security measures is significant. One of main components on the new Formula is to enhance local capabilities in the context of both innovation and human capital. To get educated on the subject, which potential investors would demand and to set education systems on both hardware and software, which enable to create workforce who would be expert on their own fields are also significant.


As GE we carry on works in this direction. GE Turkey Innovation Center and Turkey Technology Center are significant examples of this.


GSC: Ms. Özsoy, at the upcoming 2. Turkish-German Summit in Istanbul, you will be holding a panel session titled "Manufacturing is going digital -Industrie 4.0". In this session, you will be discussing how Industrie 4.0 is driving innovation in manufacturing companies, and also about opportunities for firms in the German and Turkish technology sectors. Being that you are of Turkish decent and you have lived and worked all over the world, could you tell us what Turkey has to offer the world in light of Industrie 4.0?


Canan Özsoy: Turkey is significant center of manufacturing in its own region. Today, we preserve our competitiveness for both quality and cost. We have advantages compare to the rivals in Asia and Europe. On the other hand, we plan and think about the next 3-5 year but today. Sustaining operational efficiency should be pivotal to improve Turkey's existing production capability and enhancing competitiveness.


In Turkish manufacturing companies, the awareness about the need of digital transformation is increasing but now actions are becoming significant. The company should start the transformation with a part and increase it. 


Industrial companies challenge to cut production time, cost pressure and demand for tailored products. Therefore, Turkish companies should provide faster, more secure and more efficient operations to their customers. 


This year, GE chose Turkey's Gebze facility as one of the first ten sites for its 'brilliant factory' investment, furthering GE's journey to become the world's largest digital industrial company. The Gebze site will become the first in the region to embrace manufacturing digitization, using sensor-enabled equipment to communicate real-time information through the Industrial Internet. Design, engineering, supply chain and service networks are linked to achieve optimum production in a "Brilliant Factory".  By transforming GE's Power Transformers factory into a brilliant facility, the site forecasts a 25 percent improvement in production time, 20 percent improvement in inventory management, 3 percent increase in production efficiency and 5 percent increase in delivery time. A total increase in efficiency is forecasted to reach up to 30 percent in the following years. This facility will be best practice for other factories in Turkey.


GSC: Ms. Özsoy, thank you very much for this interview!