Making Global Impact at GE
Nikki Benet Rogers MBA'07
Financial Analyst, GE Energy Human Resources Leadership Program
Greenville, South Carolina
“I decided to pursue my MBA so that I could reach a more strategic level in HR. Kelley was my top choice.”
When Nikki Rogers decided to leave her entry-level human resources job at Provident Music Group in Tennessee to pursue an MBA, she didn’t have to look hard to find the perfect program.
“I decided to pursue my MBA so that I could reach a more strategic level in HR. Kelley was my top choice,” says Rogers, whose interest in human resources started as an undergraduate, when her sister-in-law was working toward a related master’s degree. After her undergraduate program, she learned about many of the transactional aspects of the field through her position at Provident Music Group. She enjoyed what she did, but wanted to take it to the next level.
“I had a friend who had gone through the Kelley MBA program, so I knew what a great program it was—and when I looked into the top business schools in the country, I learned that Kelley is also one of the three founding schools of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.”
The consortium strives to enhance diversity in business education and leadership by increasing representation of minority student enrollment in management programs. Consortium members receive fellowships and have the opportunity to network directly with companies that value diversity. Rogers used her consortium connections to land an interview for a summer internship at GE that eventually led to her current role as a financial analyst on the GE Energy Human Resources Leadership Program (HRLP) in Greenville, South Carolina.
At Kelley, Rogers found that she could design her own MBA program: she took courses in strategic management to expand her existing human resources experience, and took courses that interested her from both the Indiana School of Law–Bloomington and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). Her Employment Law class gave Rogers in-depth knowledge of how to approach various employment issues at work, while the Public Labor Relations course she took from SPEA ended up relating directly to her future position at GE. “I was an HR manager for a union-represented site. The class gave me a great foundation for some of the issues that I had to manage—especially labor contract administration and the grievance process.”
Just as she knew she wanted to come to Kelley, Rogers knew she wanted to work at GE. “Often human resources does not have a seat at the table, but at GE, it does. There are also locations all over the world, so I knew it would be an opportunity with global impact.”
Rogers says GE has operations in countries across the globe (including China, India, Mexico and throughout Europe). “Right now I’m making process improvements in budgeting for and approving international assignments because we've seen a significant increase in the number of these types of assignments. Also, one of the coolest things about the HR leadership program is that I am able to connect with other HRLPs for best practices across the world. In the fall, we will meet in Shanghai for our HRLP seminar that takes place twice a year.”
Her current position—the second of three rotations—allows Rogers to apply some of the real-world skills she learned at Kelley, such as analyzing financial models. “Two of the rotations are in human resources. I chose finance for the third because I knew I needed to work on those skills. Finance plays a critical role at GE.” The program places new employees in three different jobs over the course of two years; after the three rotations, employees can interview to become human resources managers.
Human Resources leaders at GE are considered business partners, so they need to understand all of the aspects of the business. “The Human Resources Leadership Program is set up to support this. For me, this finance rotation is a great way for me to gain a deeper understanding of our business cycle: How do we define the operating budget? How do we measure how well we do? In addition to some of the typical finance analyst duties—analyzing functional costs/monthly closing duties, supporting part of the engineering organization—I’m working on a couple of projects that have a direct relationship to human resource management, such as the international rotation management program and the utilization of contractors in our organization, only I get to see the financial planning and cost reduction side of it. Doing so will help me become a better HR manager and business partner because I understand and, in some cases, helped to define the process.”