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GE Vernova

From the Opening Bell, GE Vernova’s Culture Chimes with Its Purpose

Chris Noon
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Steven Baert remembers a time when he failed to notice change. “We were bringing in a new CEO,” he says, recalling a managerial role at a previous company. “For weeks, I just tried to carry on doing my job and help with onboarding.” Then the penny dropped. It wasn’t just the CEO who needed to adapt to a new role, but Baert, too. “I’d made a mistake,” he admits, referring to his temporary bout of tunnel vision.

Baert, GE Vernova’s chief people officer, is unlikely to make the same error again. He’s unambiguous about what happened on April 2, the day GE Vernova completed its spin-off to stand as an independent, publicly traded company. “We’re not a name change” he says. “We’ve all started a brand-new job for a brand-new company which has a brand-new purpose.” In the months before the opening bell rang on the New York Stock Exchange, Baert and his team had been busy preparing for a distinctive culture that now drives GE Vernova’s clear sense of purpose and permeates every corner of the freshly minted company.

Steven Baert at Founder's Day in Greenville, South Carolina
Steven Baert, GE Vernova's chief people officer, at GE Vernova’s Founders Day event at the Greenville Service Center in South Carolina. Top: Baert and Reggie Miller, GE Vernova’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. Images credit: GE Vernova.


It consists of a set of five shared principles that define how GE Vernova creates value for its people, customers, and shareholders. Baert summarizes them in straightforward watchwords: “innovation, customers, lean, one team, accountable.” Together they make up the GE Vernova Way. The groundwork is complete, and Baert is now growing and nurturing that culture. He’s aiming much higher than just spreading good vibes throughout GE Vernova’s 75,000-strong workforce. “Culture is not about whether it’s nice to work at a place, or whether people are kind to each other, although those things are very important,” he says.

Baert describes the GE Vernova Way as a kind of unifying and positive force that runs through the deep grain of its business. “It binds the company and its people together, allowing them to share the aspiration of overcoming obstacles and achieving the seemingly impossible,” he says. “It ensures that the strategy on paper — to electrify and decarbonize the world — becomes a reality in the real world.”

Baert is working in lockstep with Reggie Miller, GE Vernova’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, to encourage and maintain a diversity of voices that support that core purpose. “You can’t innovate with a narrow set of voices,” says Miller. “You need a broad set to understand where the problems and challenges are, and to provide new ideas.”


Aligning with Purpose

Baert breaks down the five principles in greater detail. GE Vernova is driving innovation to electrify and decarbonize the world; serving customers with a focus on mutual success and long-term impact; challenging itself to be better every day, with lean being foundational to that success; breaking boundaries and crossing borders to succeed as one team; and remaining accountable individually and collectively for delivering on its purpose and commitments.

Although the principles clearly articulate the direction GE Vernova is moving in, Baert is aware that culture is not an individual’s invention, like the lightbulb that Thomas Edison brought the world in 1879. It gradually comes into being, taking root and growing around a company’s well-defined sense of purpose, like ivy on a stone building. And GE Vernova’s purpose — “The Energy to Change the World” — is crystal clear. “We are entirely focused on our mission,” says Baert. “So we’re building a culture in support of that.”

Steven Baert with GE Vernova employee ambassadors at NYSE on launch day
Steven Baert with GE Vernova employee ambassadors at the New York Stock Exchange on launch day.

He explains how the principles serve as a North Star to guide GE Vernova’s employees, whether they are managers working out of the global headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or wind turbine engineers carrying out maintenance in the field in Maharashtra, India. “They set an incredibly high bar,” says Baert. “If you keep asking yourself whether you’re applying those five principles, we will grow individually and as a company.” 

He cites the example of lean, a system of continuous improvement that focuses on safety, quality, delivery, and cost. “The reality is that we’ve put all our energy businesses together and created one company,” he says. “Lean helps us define common standards and processes and continuously improve.”

Saadatu Mohammed, a senior services project director at the Gas Power business in Nigeria, explains the importance of being on the same page as her colleagues. “Having this unified mindset helps us achieve a common goal of creating value, and we can easily apply these principles to achieve that goal, and that’s what makes the GE Vernova Way so special,” she says. “The principles mean something to everyone, and the evidence of putting them into practice can be seen and felt throughout the entire organization.”

For Sartaj Bhuiyan, a heavy-duty gas turbine project portfolio leader in Bangladesh who joined the company in 2006, the principles are a sturdy bridge between the past and present. “The GE Vernova Way forms a fantastic balance between GE’s strong legacy with the requirements of the future, and this will fuel the growth of the new company,” he says. “We are adopting the basic framework and empowering the employees to take the right actions and, in the process, feel proud to lead the new era of energy.”


Where the Best Ideas Come From

Baert, who joined GE Vernova in April 2023, draws on nearly three decades of experiences in human resources–focused roles at innovative life sciences companies. “I’ve seen moments when companies hire the brightest people but put handcuffs around them, because they have a top-down, ‘play not to lose’ culture,” he explains. “But if leaders have a curiosity and learning mindset and invite people in a psychologically safe way to bring the best of themselves, then it’s amazing what happens next.”

Reggie Miller at Day 2 of GE Vernova's Founders Day in Greenville, South Carolina
Reggie Miller at GE Vernova’s Founders Day in Greenville.

Miller, meanwhile, learned at a young age that people thrive when they feel secure. He remembers back to sixth grade, when his grandmother worked as a teacher’s aide, supporting students with disabilities. “I’d go and spend my lunch break in the classroom with her and my classmates,” he says. “It really embedded in me the importance of an environment where people feel comfortable and safe.”

Building that environment requires GE Vernova’s leadership to show their humanity, rather than hide it, says Miller. “We tend to define leadership as strength, when we should also define it through vulnerability, too,” he explains. “That’s crucial to creating a culture where people feel like they have a voice, and there’s an acceptance that the best ideas can come from anywhere.”

“That’s why diversity, equity, and inclusion shouldn’t be seen as this separate thing that we have to do,” Miller adds, “but embedded in the way that we work on an everyday basis.”

GE Vernova’s observance of Pride Month this month is one example of the DEI mindset in action. As both executives point out, success depends on GE Vernova employees celebrating and supporting their diversity while holding themselves and one another to account. “A company culture is ultimately defined by the behaviors that you encourage, the behaviors that you tolerate, and the behaviors that you no longer tolerate,” says Miller. And by setting that culture on the right path, GE Vernova will be in the best position to deliver meaningful change that has an impact beyond its walls — for the benefit of customers, stakeholders, and the communities in which it operates.

“Culture is ultimately what drives execution,” says Baert. “We get this right and it’s super powerful.”