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From Wanderlust to World Explorer
NOVEMBER 2013 · 
Keywords: GE, leadership,lifestyle
Mark Hutchinson, president and CEO of GE Greater China, has a diverse path that leads to his great leadership today.
 

Mark Hutchinson spent his childhood in the old town of Ipswich, England located about an hour and a half north of London.  As a middle child with two sisters, he was born to stand out. Referring to his childhood self as "sports crazy," Mark was the school rugby and athletics Capitan and used to play basketball, volleyball, hockey and tennis. With his mind on the playing field, he wasn't particularly a top student, but had a natural gift for math and a genuine love for history and geography.

"As a kid, I loved to look at maps. I remember looking at them and trying to imagine what all the countries were like. I guess that's what started my wanderlust," he said.

With a very modest upbringing, his parents were never able to afford a trip overseas. "We used to go on holidays in a caravan!" Mark shared with a laugh. Mark's desire to explore the world became a reality when he turned 18. Upon finishing school, he decided to take a year off to travel before starting university. Only being able to afford a one way ticket to Australia, he boarded the plane and took off on what would soon become a journey of a lifetime.

He ended up traveling through Europe and Asia and landed in Australia to start his first job as a drover in the outback of Queensland. "I loved Australia so much," he expressed. Mark stayed there for the next two years and had the chance to see most of the country. Rather than going back to England, Mark applied for university in Australia. He ended up getting a scholarship and was an Economics major at the University of Queensland. Starting full time, he quickly felt a real passion to succeed so he decided to take a job with Barclays Investment Bank, finishing school part time. Not long after starting work, Mark came face-to-face with a challenge that would soon put an end to his Australian adventure.

"My boss had resigned. His boss came up to me not long after and said, "Listen, I know you're young – but I think you can do it. I'll give you six months to prove you can." Needless to say, I never worked so hard in my life."

Not long after, Barclays offered Mark a one way ticket to Hong Kong where he would spend the next four years of his life. Focusing on infrastructure finance, power projects and tunnels and acting as the advisor to the Hong Kong government on the privatization build of the west harbor crossing, Mark's diverse experience in this role gave him a broader perspective and direction for his career going forward.

As Mark continued to climb higher within the organization, the more uncomfortable he began to feel about the values of investing banks. Despite his love for Hong Kong, his values were something he just wasn't willing to compromise. And then, GE came along.

"I liked GE's values. They hired me because they were looking for someone to help with financing big infrastructure projects in the region and ultimately, because they liked that I had a diverse background of experiences."

Following Mark's GE job in Asia, he booked another one-way ticket to the States to join Capital Markets and worked in securitization for the company. Mark's many moves came from two things:  a clear-cut goal and an open mind.

"I wanted to be a CEO and an Officer. The road to get there was not planned – but the vision was very much alive. I always expressed mobility as well. That, coupled with a high-level plan, I found opportunities."

The third GE career for Mark was running international business for Real Estate in Japan and then in Paris. After traveling all over the world and holding many varied roles, it was clear to Mark that being flexible was a requirement in reaching his goal in today's changing world. Mark had no idea he would go to Japan, but he knew he wanted to be global.

"Being global to me is having the ability to be culturally adaptable. It's being able to move from one culture to another and learn to understand different cultures. Living in a place, you get to really see and understand the locals. It's just something you can't get from flying in for a business meeting and leaving the next day."

Looking back on his journey, Mark described his accumulation of diverse experiences as a jigsaw; a collection of pieces put together that leads him to where he is today.

"I can't say it was because of that 'one' experience by itself. I moved around geographically and got a diverse sense of the world and cultures. Each job, each location, each new skill was a part of that jigsaw and each piece was important."

Mark's one-way ticket to China can be seen as the buildup of many diverse experiences in many different locales. Mark has lived in England, Australia, Hong Kong, USA, Japan, France and now, China. "I hope they leave me here for a long time," he said.

In the past few months, Mark shared his two big learnings. "First of all, there is enormous good will towards GE. We are really welcomed here by all levels of government. Secondly, there are just so much opportunities - our constraint is our own capability."

Having a chance to see China's development over the last twenty years was a huge advantage for Mark, as he has been able to see the enormous progress that has been made overtime. Mark sees the Chinese people as entrepreneurial, hardworking and easy to work with. "I think I have the best job in the company. There is so much to do and I find that extremely exciting."

Looking back on Mark's past, his collection of diverse experiences lighted his road, but his ability to adapt and relate is what will keep him here. From small town rugby captain to big country CEO, Mark Hutchinson's colorful past and vibrant outlook fits perfectly with GE China's optimistic future.

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PROFILE
Mark Hutchinson
President and CEO of GE Greater China
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