GE executive offers international business advice
President of GE Global Growth and Operations John Rice spoke of his personal international business experiences and offered advice to business students during his visit to Elon last Wednesday.
Rice, an Elon parent, has been with GE for 34 years and talked about international relations, the presidential election’s relation to business, and leadership in business.
Rice discussed the United States’ trade relations with other countries and how we “can’t build walls around the U.S. because it’s not going to work,” adding that we have to interact with economies. He said it is not just about the U.S. and 60 percent revenue comes from outside the U.S. Rice also commented that the days are over that one can live in the U.S. and not care about what’s happening in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and China.
On the topic of government, he questioned whether democracy will respond fast enough to the issues that we face. Rice mentioned Occupy Wall Street and noted it as “a manifestation of a feeling that democracy is not moving fast enough” and a “wealth gap between haves and have-nots.”
Rice offered advice to business students and suggested taking a course on international business, such as one on the Middle East, as well as to experience living in another country. He said doing so can allow us to value differences.
“Learn about a culture you’re not familiar with,” Rice said. “You have to keep learning.” He encouraged students to try different things and to decide whether or not to take a job in another location based on whether or not you will grow from the experience.
For students who plan to pursue higher education after Elon, Rice suggested students look at graduate schools that have more global content. He noted the single best way to have an angle on a job after you graduate is to have had internship experience.
Rice earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. The GE Board of Directors named Rice to lead the company’s global operations out of Hong Kong in November 2010. Prior to his current position, Rice served as vice chairman of GE and president & CEO of GE Technology Infrastructure. He has two sons and resides in Hong Kong with his wife, Cammie.