Paul Holmes 08 Oct 2017 // 6:24PM GMT
BOSTON—Veteran GE public relations executive Beth Comstock—whose career was built on her experience in corporate communication and ultimately transcended that expertise—will retire effective December 31, 2017, after 27 years with the company.
Comstock had initially followed a relatively traditional public relations career path. She began her career in local television production in Virginia—including a brief time on camera—before making the move into public relations, holding communications and publicity jobs at CBS and Turner Broadcasting before joining GE’s NBC unit in 1993 as vice president of NBC News communications.
But in 2003, after four years leading GE’s corporate communications department, she was named by new chief executive Jeffrey Immelt as GE’s chief marketing officer, a role that went beyond the traditional oversight of advertising and other external communications to include responsibility for transforming the GE culture into one that emphasized creativity and innovation.
In 2005, Comstock was promoted again, appointed president of NBC Universal digital media and market development, a new job at GE’s entertainment division leading the company’s digital strategy and content and distribution efforts focused on new digital platforms. And in March of 2008 she returned to the parent company as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for GE, charged with leading GE’s organic growth initiatives, including marketing, sales and communications.
She was named vice chair in 2015 and led GE’s efforts to accelerate new growth through GE’s Business Innovations unit. This unit includes Current, GE Lighting, GE Ventures.
According to John Flannery, GE’s chairman and CEO, said, “Beth’s passion for innovation has opened new markets for GE and changed the way we work. We have relied on Beth to see around corners and lead us to new ideas and invention. Her efforts to push GE into the future have been essential to GE’s growth strategy; including identifying the potential of the Industrial Internet and helping transform GE into a digital industrial company.”
Comstock will continue to lead GE Business Innovations through the end of the year.