Dan Henson, VP-Chief marketing officer, General Electric Co.

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Dan Henson, who was named VP-CMO at General Electric Co. in January, has made global expansion a major priority this year. "We have really increased our focus on emerging markets, including China, India, the Middle East and Latin America," said Henson, a 19-year GE veteran who was previously chief commercial officer of GE Commercial Finance before taking the top marketing job at GE.

"We have such a tremendous opportunity in those countries that it is really taking a big place on our priority list."

GE has been expanding its presence in China over the last five years, and now generates $5 billion in annual sales from that country.

In May, GE announced it would invest $250 million in developing marketing infrastructure in India, and it expects to double its work force there in the next few years, Hanson said.

It will also continue to build out its marketing infrastructure and sales forces in China, the Middle East and Latin America. "We have continued to enhance our marketing development curriculum to make sure we have retained and trained marketing folks to support our global marketing efforts," Henson said.

GE now has about 900 marketing trainees who are preparing to take on commercial roles once they finish their training programs. Sixty-five percent of these will serve outside the U.S.

Under Henson's direction, GE has also made big changes to the way it works with large customers, using a team approach to meet their needs rather than sending in dozens of different sales reps for different GE products. For example, within GE Commercial Finance, there are 44 different product offerings.

"We created an enterprise organization of 100 people, trained on all the products, and we have coordinated their calling activity for our top 2,000 customers," Henson said. "It is a very different way of interacting with customers."

"Now, instead of sending 44 different sales reps in, we send in one person to sit down with a customer's CFO; then that enterprise rep brings in the appropriate product specialists."

Using this approach, GE Commercial Finance grew its business from $8 billion last year to $12 billion this year.

Another priority for Henson this year has been the continuation of GE's "Imagination at Work" overall brand campaign and its environmentally friendly "Ecomagination" campaign, both developed by BBDO New York.

"`Eco' plays so well for us, we will continue to roll that out internationally," Henson said.

Earlier this year, Ecomagination was launched in China, and last month it debuted in Australia. It will be launched in India in the first quarter of next year.

Henson began his career at GE in 1987 as a district marketing manager for Vendor Financial Services. He has 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. —K.M.

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