Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Word on the street...

Back in the day, before the sell out to General Electric, the company I work for had four departments. They were software, pipeline services, government utilities and the federal group. The federal group was pretty hush-hush stuff, they were in a secure area and we never really saw any of them, so I don't know if they even exist any more.

When GE took over, software and pipeline have mostly been merged into one unit, and G/U is a seperate unit (it's entirely possible that g/u and federal merged, but I can't be certain). Anyway, rumor is that they are about to hang a "For Sale" sign on the front door of G/U.

I find it amazing that there was this company that was extremely profitable, then General Electric comes in and buys it, because it is so profitable, and in three short years it has to be broken up and sold at garage sale prices. No one is quite sure what will become of the rest of us. They did bring in a new head honcho...we'll call him Salvatore (because I just think it's a cool name). Ol' Sal seems like a real shoot from the hip kinda guy. Things to him seem to be pretty black and white with very little grey area.

Apperantly Sal has a reputation in the GE management world as the "turnaround guy". Hopefully Sal will be able to turn this company around GE can get a decent price for it when it goes on the auction block.

And hey, if they do sell us, maybe the company that buys us won't be so damned process-oriented and can actually get stuff done and make us profitable again.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

GE: The beginning

The very beginning I suppose you'd have to go back to the 50's or so when the company I work(ed) for was founded. But my story really started around the turn of the century when I came to work here. Things were hectic in the way software was developed. Trying to pigeon-hole the type of developement we did is hard to do. We didn't follow the book on proper life cycle developement (but seriously, if you could show me one company that does, I can show you a company that never gets much done). In fact, as one of the former VPs put it "I come up with ideas, and throw them over the wall for you folks to figure out." I think the best way to describe the way we coded would be "Cowboy Coding" which would be shooting from the hip first and asking questions later.

While this seems immensly inefficient, it worked. We churned out product (sure, it was bug riddled because we were never given time to properly debug and/or test the stuff we were delivering). But somehow, the company managed to earn a nice tidy profit. So much so that it got onto the radar of a company in England, which it turns out is owned by a company in Italy, which, as it so happens is owned by a company in Atlanta, Ga, which is a part of General Electric.

I can't remember exactly when it happened, but I'm guessing it was late 2001 or early 2002 when we learned that the management of our company had purchased it from the rich old man that had owned it. It was rumored that in his will he was going to leave the company to a college. The guy was like 150 years old, so it was good the management people bought it. Things were a little tighter under the new owners. Not much different since management was the same, but hey, now they were spending their own money instead of Daddy Warbucks bucks so I expected them to get a little tighter.

Every year we would recieve annual performance raises. The company had been generous with 6% - 8% raises. Until 2003. When 2003 rolled around and we were handed our performance raises, it was less than 1%. And that was across the board. Needless to say, people were not happy even a little bit. But, the consumer price index hadn't gone up very much, so we stuck around and kept working, hoping that next year they would see the error of their ways and make good for us.

Then October of 2003 came, and we got the news that we had been purchased by General Electric. It was a deal, they said, that had been in the works for more than a year. "Well, no wonder we got such lousy raises" I thought, "they had to make the company look even better on paper to jack up the price." I wasn't so mad about the raises anymore because hey, if I were in their shoes, I'd have done the exact same thing.

Friday, November 03, 2006


About three years ago General Electric purchased the company I work for. What will be posted here, more or less, are my experiences since there. My experiences with the GE culture, processes (they LOVE that word), management etc.

Be it known that the people discussed here are real, but their names have been changed to protect myself as much as them (for instance, Carmen Infatalida has been changed to John Derby).

Over the next several posts I will introduce the key players in this little tragedy. I feel the nicknames I have come up with are fairly descriptive, so you can get an idea of what the person is like, yet ambiguous enough that if you don't actually work in our office, you won't know who they really are.