By Mark Meltzer and Maria Saporta
General Electric Co. has named Russell Stokes, its highest-ranking executive in Georgia, as the new CEO of GE Power, the company’s New York-based unit responsible for power generation and water technologies. But Stokes — who will lead the Metro Atlanta Chamber in 2018 — will continue to be based in Atlanta.
Stokes, currently president and CEO of GE Energy Connections, will take over GE Power on July 3. He succeeds Steve Bolze, who has announced his decision to retire. In his new role, Stokes will lead the integration of the legacy GE Power and Energy Connections businesses into one, power-focused unit called GE Power, according to GE.
Annette Busateri, GE’s spokeswoman in Atlanta, said Stokes will continue to be based in Atlanta.
“GE Power and GE Energy Connections are both very global businesses, which allows for leaders to be based at key locations around the world,” she said.
Stokes became president and CEO of Atlanta-based GE Energy Connections in October 2015, becoming the highest-ranking GE executive in Georgia.
Busateri confirmed that Stokes will take the reins of the Metro Chamber next year.
“He’s looking forward to the opportunity and strengthening GE’s visibility in the Atlanta community,” she said.
Boston-based GE has a significant presence in Atlanta with both GE Power and GE Energy Connections as well as GE Digital and GE Transportation.
Metro Atlanta Chamber spokeswoman Deisha Barnett said the chamber is excited about Stokes’ promotion.“Russell’s scope of responsibility is expanding and he’ll do it all from Atlanta,” she said. “Good news, all around.”
Interestingly enough, Stokes had been slated to chair the Metro Atlanta Chamber in 2019. But that timetable changed in April when AT&T decided to move some of its top executives out of Atlanta. That included Glenn Lurie, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Operations, who had been in line to become the Chamber’s chairman in 2018.
Stokes agreed to serve a year earlier, and Dave Abney, the CEO of UPS, agreed to become chairman in 2019.
Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE, had this to say, in a statement, “Russell brings a strong combination of operational, industrial and energy experience to this role, and can now scale his leadership skills with the combined GE Power and GE Energy Connections. Bringing these two businesses together, we saw an opportunity to align our global customer base, create a common strategy, and leverage synergies to simplify our structure. Since taking the role at Energy Connections, Russell has led the integration of Alstom Grid and planned disposition of Industrial Solutions. He has a keen sense of the market, and knows how to invest in technology ahead of the curve.”
Stokes is a 20-year GE veteran. For the past 18 months, he has led Energy Connections. Prior to this role, Stokes was president and CEO of GE Transportation. He has also held senior roles in GE Lighting and GE Aviation, and across a variety of functions, including finance, sourcing, services and operations.
Headquartered in Schenectady, New York, GE Power is GE’s largest industrial business, with approximately $27 billion in revenue in 2016 and more than 55,000 employees.
Mark Meltzer is the executive editor of the Atlanta Business Chronicle