Passion Sundays

Passion Secrets in the Workplace by One of the Most Admired Companies in the World

How 130+ years of history mixed with cutting edge technology resulted in Passion Secrets in the workplace to become one of the most admired companies in the world!

Welcome to passion secrets which is a part of very special series “Passion for Work” that brings human back into human capital and no better way to begin this series with one of the most admired companies in the world, GE!
We talk to Joe Chalouhi who heads the HR for GE in MENA region to tell us more about the secrets behind that made a company with over 330,000 employees operating in 170 countries with over 130 years of history become one of the most admired companies in the world!
It’s not easy to merge history with cutting edge technology and artificial intelligence so if you want to know more about the secrets of the passionate human capital in GE then go ahead and watch this interview don’t forget to share it around and spread the passion.

Live Passionately

Moustafa Hamwi 
Passionpreneur & Chief Energy Officer
AKA The Passion Guy


Moustafa:        Hello everyone and welcome to a special series about Passion in the Workplace. A series that is putting human back in human capital.
Our guest today heads the HR for one of the most admired companies in the world. Joe Chalouhi, is the regional head of HR of GE Mena.
Joe, thank you very much for being here.
Joe:                  Hey, thank you. It’s good to be here.
Moustafa:        Appreciate it.
Joe:                  Thanks! Good to see you again!
Moustafa:        I’m really excited to talk to you for many reasons. I mean we’ve come across each other in many conferences and events. We’re talking about
Joe:                  Yeah.
Moustafa:        HR and I like your innovative approach. And you definitely work for one of, if I might say, one of the most old school companies in the world.
Joe:                  Uh oh.
Moustafa:        But yet one of the most cutting-edge, technologically, companies in the world. How were you able to merge this together in the context of, obviously, passion.
Joe:                  Uhm…No it’s nothing, it’s good luck. It is a 130 plus year-old company, you know, it is three hundred and thirty, kind of forty thousand people worldwide. So really to really induce passion to a company as big as this is really coming very crucial cause it is becoming the foundation of everything we do. We’re to make people relax, we’re to make them happy. Moreover we’re getting, you know, strain of millenials coming in. We do wanna see something different. And today when we speak about something different, is that what is really that difference entails, right? So in the past, when we used to go on hire we would look at people who have been in companies for years, we got like you know, a long ten year in the company. And that’s really ticking successful scientist of such a loyalty, we really bring them in. But today, it’s really no longer the case. I mean, we’re beginning to understand is that, you don’t need to be in a company for 10 years to really to, to, to be loyal. Umm at least today that 1, 2, 3 years, they want something new, something different, something innovative. So this has really one of the reasons let us to understand that we need to really begin to change the way we do things, our culture. You know, the way we run things, the way we work. Uhm, and how we really repeat begin to work in the future, and we re-induced digital into the world of GE.
Moustafa:        So… In the context of training and development, how does what you just mentioned impact the training and development strategy in the company.
Joe:                  Umm..You know we were into…and we we’ve always been into heavy equipment. You know we were been into heavy machines. Been in a health care business with our digital equipment and imaging. Aviation business, our jet engines, our turbos and power. So you know in the positive it’s just really, technical, technical, technical and now we’re really infusing it with look, technical and really commitment. Technical and really change of behavior. Technical and really passion, and happiness. So we were beginning to create that new, you know, that new environment, that new atmosphere, and training has really evolved as well. So our head of training, or that of course, our training in Crotonville in New York. You know is that we really imagined the whole training modules to really begin to look on how, what are the things that we’ve been doing for so long, then we’re beginning to get rid of those and modifying them to bring them up to the 21st century level training that we really want.
Moustafa:        And how were you able to change that from a momentarily task type thing into an actual culture. Because it’s very easy to bring people into training and I, I personally hate that terminology because I think it’s dying out, but the reality is we have to use it until we find better terminology and now that’s becoming development. So we say training and development, and we say it learning and development. But all of that is great, but it needs to be sustainable. So how do you convert that into a culture that continuous and then, with such a turnover of employees? You say people coming for 2 to 3 years. Well you’re losing a lot of talent and you’re losing a lot of learnings. How you were able to transfer that knowledge?
Joe:                  Yeah, it’s a great question. Look, that you know today, in a company as big as GE and in other company, you know, when you drive something, you drive it really, the tone from the top is really, really important. So today we’re moving from a culture of readings to for example, a culture of no readings, we take as example. When we see that happening really at the top, and we see that’s a way of survival, and we see that we need to begin to let go of a lot of things that got us to what we are today but not necessarily gonna get us to where we wanna to be tomorrow, we really begin to drop that. We know we’ve, know we’ve re-imagined our session series, our famous people review, we drop our readings, we’re looking at how to do things a bit more simpler. You know we’ve, you know we’ve look at GEOS and our employees surveys, now we really simplified that. I mean we no longer do that every two years. So we really been changing a lot of things that we’ve been doing in GE for the past 40, 50, 60 years. So when you drive such a culture change it’s really based on, data from inside. It’s based on market data, and it’s really based on the kind of culture that we adapt in the company to survive in the 21st century. So, so it’s something that, you know, all employees, you know, buy into because it’s something that they see as really important. Now does it happen to everybody? Not necessarily, but it happened in the majority, yes, because they see that’s a…Number 1, the way of survival. Ah…less focused and less dependency on machinery today. Now that’s become a bit lot more advanced, and more on, behavior and people, so we really launched on GE on new sets of behavior. You know we’re replacing our old values and it’s really about, you, and it’s  about the person. And it’s about how they do things, and how they think about things. So we’re seeing a little shift there as well. And also we’re saying that it’s really bringing in a happy environment. You know we, we understand today that yep, they’re still with us for 2 or 3 years until we may rebutt the millennials, but surprisingly enough, they always come back. So we always have our doors open to them.
Moustafa:        So interesting here about mentioning the happiness and the whole passion, ah area, that’s an area that’s close to my heart obviously. Ah, how do you instill that passion and happiness and how do you also compare it at a level from recruitment, so when people are coming in how do you measure, are they the right people first that have the right level of passion?
Joe:                  Ummm. Look, I think, you know, when you speak about, you know, passion you speak about happiness today, really it’s, today, for me, it’s a cutting edge of, of you know, of stability, and of what people want. You know they want a purpose. They want clarity and they really wanna feel that they’re really been recognized and appreciated. And if you really combined those 3 things, you know, you got really, you got the person committed for a very long time. And they don’t really have to work for the rest of their lives. And if they wake up every morning and they say, “You know what, I’ve got, I’m working in the best company in the world. This is the best job I’ve ever had, and I’m really looking forward to go to work”, you don’t really have to work at all anymore. So, you know, we’ve been not looking it wrong globally for a very long time, but we’re beginning to look at it differently to say, “Hey how can we really do that for you?” So it’s a combination. That’s why we have this change of, you know, we’ve been planning new behavior set, you know, a set of behaviors, ah…which is on the GE beliefs. You know, that’s why, we’re in sort of, you know, getting rid of the readings, and it’s becoming a two-way thing, with real-time feedback both way to the whole year. So, we’re changing a lot in the company to really infuse passion, with performance, with commitment…
Moustafa:        Uh oh.
Joe:                  And satisfaction.
Moustafa:        Umm I like the passion and performance part.
Joe:                  Yeah, huh.
Moustafa:        So, and I, I’ve done, you know,  some, some passion work actually at GE and I have to say was, pretty much one of the most impressive group of people I’ve work with, cause they already came on a high level of passion, I only took them further. But then they, you can tell there’s a culture there. And umm…what is the secret in your opinion, to having that culture?
Joe:                  Ummm…Look, if you look at the product or the biz that we do, right? What do we do? We got health care, we save lives. We got aviation, we make sure that people arrive safely. We got turbines and power and energy, you know, we light up the city and our water business as well. And so we got transportation, so we really sort of move safely product from one area, so when you really got this really crucial, lifesaving…ummm you know, important products, then you’re starting to make a difference into people’s lives, it just gives you that really sense of really happiness as well. That really that content, you know that, “Hey, I work with healthcare, I’m saving lives.” You know, “Hey, I work in aviation I’m making sure our jet engines are cutting edge.” So it’s a.  really gives that, so that’s really one.  And 2, GE is a meritocracy, everyone helps one another. It’s a great culture to work with. It’s a walking university. And everybody is valued, everybody is treated fairly, everybody has that opportunity to grow, and to develop and to learn, equally, irrespective of where, or how, or what are you, or where are you from. So when we have that reinforced over and over again with cutting-edge technology, with a major culture shift that we are seeing today, you know, ah…more on behavior and GE turning to become a more of a digital, industrial company, we can see that a bit later, You know, I mean, we got the main ingredients for people to define their purpose, their commitment, and their clarity, and their passion.
Moustafa:        I love this. And I’m gonna push back a little bit because now this is, if I was employed, I’ll be scared because you are talking about all this technology, and the only thing I can think about is my job is being replaced by a machine. And you’re, you’re, okay, lacking the fact that I’m, that, okay, living in two years. My worry is you’ll gonna fire me in two years because the machine is cheaper than me.
Joe:                  Ah.
Moustafa:        How are you tackling that?
Joe:                  Yeah. No, it’s, it’s also a great question. Look, I think that if we move too fast, we’re gonna really lose that human touch. And we only probably seen it unfortunately happening, you know, particularly with digital evolution that we have seen for the past 5 to 10 years. Umm but it’s really extremely important that you know you, you’ve got that human touch in a, in a company culture, you know, so we really encouraged, you know, in, in classroom development or learning. You know, we encourage the people to connect as much as possible. We encourage people to really move away from tele-presence or cam calls and get together in the same room. So whenever we get that chance we really do encourage that face to face interaction. But today with cost and travel and TNL and time and…But with, with human be replaced one day…Look, I know there’s a hotel in Japan opening up, that, that’s only been, been manned by robots…
Moustafa:        First one ever.
Joe:                  But I think, no we still need that, but yes, we are really evolving in a very scary way. And if we look at the GE journey today, to move into an industrial-digital company, we have all the machines talking to one another, you know, that is really kind of scary. We will still need to man but we still need people, but it’s only a different kind.
Moustafa:        I love it. Thank you very much that’s a great way to conclude and ah…I’m sure our viewers enjoyed it. Thank you very much!
Joe:                  Thank you very much!
Moustafa:        Appreciate it.
Joe:                  What do you think? I would really love to hear your opinion. Please do share your comments with our passion community on the blog below. And if you found this episode valuable, please do share it and spread the love. And if you would like to get more tips, tools, techniques, and exclusive interviews that will help you on your passion journey, go to and subscribe to Passion Sundays. Until next episode, live passionately!
Moustafa & Joe:          Passion!

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Hi, I’m Moustafa

Dubai’s real-life “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.” On a one-way ticket to India, I’ve gone from meeting a Swami out of 13 years in caves, to natural healing from a disease to become the Passionpreneur. I’m an international speaker and coach helping people find and pursue passion.

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