General Electric is one of the best-known companies—here and everywhere else. This is a great advantage for the chief marketing officer, responsible for the company’s overall marketing strategy and brand promotion, but also a great challenge.
“GE is 123 years old and our brand—one of the biggest in the world—is valued at $42 billion. Most people have heard of GE and think highly of it, and that’s part of the advantage of being such an established brand,” said Linda Boff ’83, who became chief marketing officer in September. “Our challenge isn’t awareness. It’s making sure people know who we are today and where we’re headed in the future."
For example, ten years ago, when Boff joined GE, the company had diverse businesses—entertainment, financial and industrial. Today, its portfolio is focused on health, energy and transportation. And it’s focused on more than the equipment of these fields, like wind turbines or CT scanners.
“We are no longer just machines, we sell outcomes,” explained Boff, who is based in GE’s New York City office. “Our software helps industries move faster, operate less expensively and more efficiently. We have merged machines and analytics on a scale that will benefit all industrial companies. This is what a digital industrial company like GE is all about.”
As such, a top priority for her is communicating this identity.
“We work hard to show up in ways that are contemporary, relevant, fresh and unexpected,” Boff said. “We’re quick to adopt new digital platforms and social media because it reminds people that GE is all about invention and technology. We align our marketing with our business strategy.”
Keeping up with all of these emerging trends, and using them creatively, is something the political science major (who minored in psychology) learned at Union.
“Union was a time when I explored everything. I became a radio DJ. I learned to shoot and develop photos for Concordiensis. I played JV lacrosse. I was on the Speakers Committee. I was social chair at SDT. I did internships at Ellis Hospital and an Albany radio station,” Boff recalled. “I did study (at least some of the time), but more than anything, I explored what piqued my interest.
“I use those same skills in business. I am always looking for the next idea, meeting new people, exploring fresh ways of approaching problems. Union woke all of that up for me.”
Union also has the added bonus of being her daughter’s alma mater. Nellie, who graduated in 2015, has followed her mother into the media business. Boff is proud that both she and her daughter gained so much from their time in Schenectady.