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survival — it was one of the first 12 companies to comprise the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is still on the index. Through it all, the Canadian unit, launched in Peterborough,

Ont., at the same time as the parent company was founded, has played a key role. And Allan assures that will continue to be the case going forward. GE Co. — already a global powerhouse — aims to be the

largest and most value-added infrastructure company in the world. “If you look across our businesses, you’ve got power gen- eration, distribution of energy, healthcare and aviation … you’ve got oil and gas and transportation. And then there’s lighting, which is also becoming very high tech,” she says. “We’re looking at how we can help our customers to achieve the outcomes they need with technological innovation that will help them opti- mize their production, to deliver lower costs, more efficiency and cleaner outputs.” The focus now is on the Industrial Internet, a phrase popular-

ized by Jeffrey Immelt, GE Co.’s high-profile CEO. The goal is to create smart machines that will be able to capture vast amounts of data with embedded sensors and software, “talk” to each other, make sense of the data with advanced analytical tools and communicate findings throughout far-flung systems. “Our equipment has had soſtware in it, but never in the way

that we’re doing it now,” Allan says. She explains that using the Industrial Internet to connect machines and to mine and process the data they collect will help all sorts of systems be better managed. She uses the oil and gas sector as an example, describing an intelligent pipeline using sensors and fibre optics to provide systemwide data that will help to predict problem areas before leaks occur. “It would create an integrated dash- board that would let you, as a manager, see the whole system.” Another example is in aviation, where intelligent engines are

being developed to capture data that will help anticipate where and when maintenance might be needed, meaning fewer delays on the tarmac. Intelligent lighting is also on the horizon, lighting that could

be used to provide security systems for banks, patient location systems for hospitals or crowd control for entertainment venues. This could be done with sensors embedded in LED lights that can read the environment in which they are located. And more advanced manufacturing is also part of GE’s vision. Several years ago GE launched a robotics research centre in Bromont, Que., where it makes components for aircraft en- gines. “What’s cool about it is that not one person lost their job,” Allan says. “We’ve had tremendous productivity gains. Now these guys are designing robots for our plants all over the world.” Allan was appointed president and CEO of GE Canada in

2004, after working for the company off and on in various capacities between 1984 and 1992. In between she worked for Ontario Hydro and helmed the Toronto Board of Trade. Raised in Baldwin, NY, she earned a BA from New Hampshire’s


“She’s got this capability to connect the dots at the macro level and she sees things that maybe others don’t see”

Dartmouth College, where she focused on biology and environ- mental science, and an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Her academic pursuits might make her seem an unlikely

candidate to lead a division of a giant conglomerate built on engineering prowess. But being well rounded and able to com- municate is oſten what makes a leader effective when it comes to representing a tech-based company to the world outside its walls. And this is a skill at which Allan is said to excel. Curious, inspiring, visionary, confident, driven. These are some of the adjectives used to describe her. “She is a very contemporary leader,” says Simon Olivier, who

has known Allan for 10 years and has reported to her for the past three as executive vice-president of growth and strategy. By a contemporary style, he means an alternative to the command- and-control, top-down model that may have served corpora- tions well at one time, but is being replaced by a more inclusive approach that encourages participation and engagement, not just blind obedience. “What I really like about Elyse is that she is able to connect with people in a very genuine fashion,” says Olivier, who credits her with helping him develop the skills he has needed to rise through the ranks. “She understands what matters to people. She leads in an inspiring and empowering way through how she delegates and asks for things to be done.” Asked if she has a tough side, Olivier says he prefers to use the

word “decisive.” “She can make up her mind quite rapidly and once she de-

cides something she acts on it,” he says. “She’s got a lot of trust in herself and her capabilities and a lot of trust in others, which gives her the comfort level to be bold. She’s also got this capability to connect the dots at the macro level and she sees things that maybe others don’t see.” Case in point is Calgary’s GE Customer Innovation Centre, designed to bring expertise and analytical tools from around the globe to tackle challenges in the oil and gas sector, as well as power and water. Opened in 2012, it has become a success story. “It was a challenge to get the whole idea to take off,” Olivier

says. “But Elyse was really bold in her approach because she felt it was the right thing to do for customers. Were it not for Elyse, that centre would not exist today.”

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