Who's Who 2006: Dan Henson

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It's been a busy six months for Dan Henson, who was named chief marketing officer of General Electric Co. in January.

Henson, a 19-year veteran of GE, assumed the top marketing post at the $150 billion diversified manufacturing company after previous CMO Beth Comstock was named president of digital media and market development at GE unit NBC Universal.

"The last six months have been pretty exciting, coming up to speed in the new role," said Henson, who was previously chief commercial officer of GE Commercial Finance. He's also served as president-CEO of GE Vendor Financial Services, president-CEO of GE Capital Fleet Services and president-general manager of GE Capital Auto Financial Services.

Henson said he has three primary goals in his new job.

"The first is to be as effective commercially as we possibly can, by creating a world-class sales and marketing organization and by deploying tools to help the sales force," he said.

His second goal is global expansion. Five years ago, GE had virtually no presence in China. After making a commitment to expand into the country, GE now generates $5 billion in annual sales and has 10,000 employees there.

Its next frontier is India. In May, GE announced a $250 million infra-structure investment in India, and expects that it will generate $8 billion in annual sales from the country by 2010.

Other markets in which GE plans further expansion include the Middle East and Latin America, Henson said. "Even though we are a global company, we still have a lot of opportunity to capitalize on growth in these regions," he said.

Henson's third goal is innovation in products, markets and commercial opportunities.

"We want to make sure we are exposing ourselves to new ways of thinking, views, partners and influences," he said.

Henson said GE is much more open to partnerships than it has been in the past. For example, the company recently established a presence in Turkey through a deal with a large bank in that country.

Henson also has a vision for GE's advertising strategy.

"We love the `Imagination at Work' campaign and will continue to run with that because it has been very successful," he said, pointing to the corporate branding campaign begun in 2003 via BBDO New York. "Now, we have to have as much familiarity with GE in China, India and the Middle East as we do in the U.S."

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