General Electric Names New Head of Learning

Linda Boff, the company’s marketing chief, now leads learning and culture, including GE’s Crotonville management development institute.

Linda Boff is General Electric’s vice president of learning and culture and chief marketing officer. Photo courtesy of General Electric.

General Electric named Linda Boff chief learning officer in January 2018. The role was previously held by Jack Ryan, who served as vice president of executive development and learning since January 2016.

Boff takes on the position in addition to her current role as GE chief marketing officer, a position she has held since 2015. During that time, GE has invested in an extensive branding campaign to help shape and move public perception of the company away from its industrial past toward an increasingly digital future.

As vice president of learning and culture, Boff will lead learning and development for the company’s 300,000 employees worldwide. She also will assume responsibility for Crotonville, the company’s longtime management development institute in upstate New York.

“I am excited and proud to partner with the excellent learning team at GE to help the company continue to transform our culture to be one of transparency, candor and world-class leadership,” Boff said. “In many ways, GE’s culture is our brand and vice-versa. Connecting the marketing and learning worlds allows us to rethink GE’s cultural impact and extend the learnings from our culture transformation with the world.”

Crotonville and GE hold prominent positions in the history of corporate learning and development. Steve Kerr, the first executive to hold the title of chief learning officer, was tapped for the role by then CEO Jack Welch in 1994. Crotonville played a role in the development of current and former CEOs at GE as well as former GE leaders who went on to run companies like Boeing, 3M, Honeywell and Home Depot.

The move comes during a tumultuous time for the company. In June 2017, GE announced that longtime Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt would retire at the end of the year. John Flannery, who previously was president and CEO of GE Healthcare, stepped up to fill the role. In December, following a year of poor stock market performance, the company announced it would lay off 12,000 people in its power division. This was part of efforts to cut $3.5 billion in costs across GE by the end of 2018.

All this comes on the heels of the company’s decision to relocate its headquarters from Fairfield, Connecticut, where it was based since 1974, to Boston. About 250 executives moved into temporary office space in Boston last year, and GE planned to renovate two buildings and construct a new tower, completing a nearly 400,000-square-foot campus by mid-2019. The opening of the new building has been delayed to mid-2021.

Boff joined GE in 2004 following 18 years in marketing, advertising and communications at Citigroup, the American Museum of Natural History and Porter Novelli.

Ashley St. John is managing editor of Chief Learning Officer. She can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.

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