Sep 23, 2008
Thank you. Good Evening.
It’s an honor to be with you here tonight.
As the Rabbi said earlier, we have 1,200 attendees in the room tonight; we’ve raised almost $3 million. Thank you to everyone here for such a great cause. It’s really, really fantastic.
It’s an honor for me to accept this award on behalf of GE and our 320,000 people. It’s really an award that’s about their role in the world and the great work that they do. It’s an honor to be on the same dais with Mike Bloomberg.
Mike is one of the great civic leaders in the world. He has done a great job leading New York City. He is a real innovator in the environment and healthcare. And I’d like to say, thanks to Mike. I recognize Mike. I consider Mike a friend and I think he really has done a great job.
In the political cycle, in the United States right now, we talk a lot about reform and reformer, but I think we’ve seen it in President Sarkozy what it really means.
France is very much a second home to GE. We have 10,000 employees in France. We do about $7 billion in revenue. The jet engines and the gas turbines and the medical products that we make in France get exported to the rest of the world. We really see France as a competitive source. President Sarkozy has done a great job of driving that innovation. And because of him, our employees can now work 40 hours a week instead of 30. We view that as real innovation on a global stage and I want to say thanks to President Sarkozy for that. I would like to thank publicly both Mike and President Sarkozy for their great support of GE.
The fact is that everyone in this room and the great leaders that have left here earlier tonight, better get back to work tomorrow and better get back to work fast. We have some real challenges ahead of us. And they are challenges that need leadership. They are challenges that need courage. And they are challenges that really need everyone in this room and your colleagues around the world to go to work. And in many ways, the fundamentals of the Appeal of Conscience, I think, can really be exemplified and are really important as we approach some of the challenges globally today.
Three words that I would like to just mention briefly because they are a big part of GE and I think they are a big part of the future. The first one is innovation. If we had spent as much time on technical innovation over the last ten or twenty years as we had spent on other forms of innovation, there would be more prosperity, there would be more competitiveness, and I think in many ways, we have to get back to those roots.
Some of the social issues that the Appeal of Conscience talks about which is access to healthcare, access to water, access to energy – these are all things that the economics of scarcity and technical innovation can really solve. And in many ways, GE is a technical company investing billions of dollars in R&D whether it comes to clean water for the masses in India, access to healthcare in places like Africa, or investment in clean energy.
The second thing I would like to talk about is the importance of globalization. In the good days, there was a real disagreement about globalization. Businesspeople liked it; the citizens tended not to like it. I think what we see in the world today that the world is unbelievably interwoven. That the economic system, the solutions to these problems, are global in nature and deserve global solutions. And I believe that we can take this moment in time as a way to push forward in globalization, to forge new transatlantic alliances that can help solve some of the problems in the financial system, energy, healthcare, and other parts that we believe are so important.
And the last thing I would like to talk about is optimism. This is a time when people need to be concerned, but need to be focused on the future. Rabbi Arthur Schneier has been a great example of that in his lifetime. The problems we have are serious but they are all solvable. They require leaders in this room and around the world to know that the future is going to be better than the past. There are many parts of the global economy that are still working in infrastructure technology; we need to stay focused on the things that are working and go forward.
At GE, we talk about being both a great and a good company. Great in the sense that we are committed to deliver strong results and execute for our investors. Good in the sense that we believe in giving back to the countries that we invest in and giving back to society.
And those are the principles on which I accept this award tonight. Again, I would like to thank all of you for attending. I would like to thank Rabbi Arthur Schneier for the great award. And it’s my honor to be here tonight.