Feeling the pulse of emerging Europe

A while ago, a highly respected colleague of mine said “One for all, all for one” and perfectly described with this famous quote the relevance of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in emerging Europe for companies like ours.

Partnering with best in class suppliers is one of the major prerequisites for the success of GE. This major finding was again confirmed at our recent Renewable Energy Global Supplier Conferences, where 370 participants from 30 countries, among them 260 participants from the supplier side – both existing and potential partners – were present.

In 2021, renewable energy will account for 40-50 per cent of new installed generation capacities. Renewable Energy is GE’s highest-growth business in 2019 and the company is therefore looking for sustainable local partnerships. For suppliers, this business is an excellent opportunity to anticipate the future by supporting cutting-edge technologies, investing in capacity, leveraging synergies between supply chains of businesses and raising awareness. With Cypress, a five MW onshore turbine platform and Haliade-X, the worldwide first 12 MW offshore turbine, the GE portfolio includes technology setting the pace in the global energy transition. With 1 GW of installations – existing and backlog – GE is also the only offshore wind turbine OEM with installations on three continents.

The renewable market offers a lot of positive and – unfortunately – also challenging certainties: the market is growing and continues to do so, GE is investing massively in new products: onshore, offshore, hydropower. But competition is fierce, pricing is under pressure as technology advances, prices for raw materials are volatile. We – the supplier network and GE – can, in the end, only win together. Having identified around 20 potential new suppliers out of emerging Europe with five having received a high probability classification, that’s what I call a real win.

Representing the stakes of emerging Europe in our company, it made me proud when I heard my colleague Anthony Long, global sourcing leader for GE Renewable Energy, saying: “We want to grow our supply base as Renewable Energy in Eastern Europe beyond the trusted partners we have worked with in the past. With the ever changing and fluid currency fluctuations, global raw material pricing; it is important to not become too reliant on any one area of the world. We trust in the demonstrated quality, on time delivery, attention to EHS and full compliance to our ethical code proven by all of the suppliers to GE located in Central and Eastern Europe.”

SMEs are an extremely important success factor for any country as they employ the most people and are often called the backbone of the economy. The intense cooperation between GE and its CEE supplier network has its official origin in 2017, when GE Hungary formulated a strategic partnership with the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA) and for National Economy (NGM) to support the development of its Hungarian supplier base.

Given the importance of emerging Europe for international business in general and GE in particular, the company decided not to limit this initiative to Hungary but to extend it to the CEE region. Based on the success of joint efforts and utilising the Hungarian Sourcing Support Ecosystem as a blueprint, an initiative was freshly launched to recreate its success in other CEE countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Serbia). This supplier programme enables high potential SMEs to improve their know-how on disruptive technologies, become more integrated into GE’s supply chain and create bigger value for the local economy through access to capital investment options, partnerships and global markets. Highly productive SMEs throughout the whole region will be essential to sustain the process of transitioning into an innovation-based society. That’s why GE Renewable Energy has decided to hold its Global Supplier Conference in Hungary, as we see the potential of the region and its SMEs. We want to feel the pulse of emerging Europe.

Why it is so essential to work with a sound local suppliers’ network? The key words are safety, quality, delivery, cost and last but not least: people. We want to work with committed, talented people, drive a safety-first culture, deliver – on time – excellent customer experience and focus on cost to finally increase our procurement volume by better integrating all of our SME partners and integrating new ones into our supply chain. In order to maintain our competitive edge, we need to move up the ecosystem around us to the next level, thus pull up our suppliers along with us.

GE needs emerging Europe and emerging Europe needs GE to grow and to increase its competitiveness. This can only be done if we collaborate. “One for all, all for one” has not lost its validity at all.