LIGHTING THE WAY

Colombia 2016 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Eduardo Jaramillo Cuervo, President & CEO of General Electric (GE), on the role GE intends to play in developing Colombia's energy value chain and creating a diversified matrix to support the country's energy needs for years to come.

Eduardo Jaramillo Cuervo
BIOGRAPHY
Eduardo Jaramillo Cuervo is the current CEO of GE for Colombia. Cuervo is an industrial engineer from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, and has an MBA in finance specialist studies from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Northwestern University.

How was the past year for GE in Colombia?

We have been present in Colombia for almost 90 years, and, in this time, we have seen positive and sustainable results, while emphasizing our social responsibility commitment. Talent is critical for GE and that is what shapes the way we do business and the way we maintain our integrity. Overall, 2015 was positive locally and globally. GE is present in Colombia with all its business units and that strong presence signals our commitment to the country.

What steps are you taking to gain more market share?

First, the company acquired Alstom, a French company with deep involvement in the energy value chain. It is strong in renewables and has built a strong presence in hydro and offshore wind farms. That global acquisition is an important pillar for our future growth in Colombia. Additionally, we acquired a local distributor for healthcare, Gemedco, a company that for a long time was the distributor of GE's healthcare products with an excellent position in the market. Part of the motivation for that acquisition was to be closer to our customers and grow beyond what we have been doing over the last few years. We have established a strong plan for strategic growth in key areas where we believe the country will be growing.

How important is the energy sector for GE?

Traditionally, the oil and gas industry was one of the key sources for growth. We also see great potential for power generation in renewables, non-renewables, and even non-conventional renewables. We want to support our customers not only with equipment, but with business solutions. There are also opportunities for developing the country's grid requirements. We also participate in intelligent light technologies helping consumers to save 40% to 50% of their bills.

What efficiencies could be implemented in Colombia to make the price of electricity more competitive?

It is a combination of several things along the whole value chain; the matrix needs to be well diversified in the long term. For non-renewables, Colombia needs to make the right investments to increase natural gas reserves to have competitive and reliable generation. We can also provide highly competitive steam technologies that have low generation cost, are environmentally friendly, and will not affect the communities in which these plants operate. We are confident that a smart use of our resources, including gas, coal, and wind, and the right technologies to create a diversified matrix will maintain not only competitive prices, but more price stability in the long run.

What strategies is the company implementing to ensure that the digital revolution takes place in Colombia?

The digital revolution is the new industrial revolution. It is absolutely critical that this takes shape in Colombia because it is related to the competitiveness of the economy. GE's equipment is already “intelligent and digital," with sensors to gather data on performance so that we can better predict and optimize the asset operation and maintenance. That is applicable to everything we do, from locomotives to airplanes. We believe the digital industrial revolution will bring us to the next level of growth.

What do you expect of GE for this year and in 2017?

There are challenges in several of the industries in which we participate, but good opportunities remain in oil and gas, energy, and healthcare. Companies like GE can help develop the country in that sense.