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5 Questions with GE’s Grid Solutions’ Catherine Molle-Epain

As the newly promoted head of GE’s Grid Solutions’ Center of Excellence for oil lab activities, Catherine Molle-Epain helps protect the health of 50,000 transformers worldwide — ensuring that millions of people can have the power they need to live and work. It’s a big job, but one for which Catherine, who has 15 years of experience plus both a doctorate in chemistry and a master’s degree in business, is particularly well-suited.

Catherine is one of a growing number of women in leadership positions at GE. In 2017, the company announced goals of having 20,000 women in STEM roles by 2020 and obtaining 50:50 representation for all its technical entry-level programs. We recently chatted with Catherine about her role at Grid Solutions.

What are your specific contributions to the GE’s Grid Solutions business?

Customer satisfaction is at stake in everything we do. I oversee teams that create best-in-class processes and tools, defining the delivery methods that best serve our customers’ needs. We’re fostering a diverse technical community that will lead us into the future — recruiting female talent is a top priority. Women are increasingly interested in the energy space, such a critical topic for the development of human society.

Why are the oil labs critical for GE’s Grid Solutions’ business and customers?

When the lights are on, we feel it’s partly thanks to us. What we do is at the edge of chemistry and digital. We launched beginning of this year a customer portal providing all our customers with customized dashboards and autogenerated reminders. We help prevent transformer failures by providing the tools and knowledge needed for detailed reports on the transformers’ health and predict the behavior of the asset in the future. This saves our customers’ time and money while helping them optimizing their maintenance strategy.

What do you like most about your job?

As a woman in Services, I’m part of a small but powerful minority — by preventing breakdowns, by repairing what is broken, we are a bit like machine superheroes! I like to pull in highly specialized skills from other disciplines to enhance what we do in the lab. In our Services business, we are fortunate to have the depth and variety of expertise and professions at our fingertips driven by a constant desire to innovate to satisfy our customers.

You recently were promoted to head of the oil lab Center of Excellence and designated as a confirmed Technical Expert — what does this mean for your career and for the Services business?

I see it as confirmation that Grid Solutions views what Services does is strategically crucial — and that is personally so motivating to me. And given my deep interest in the technical disciplines, joining the elite community of Technical Experts is validating; it’s truly a defining moment in my career. I am happy to be able to interact on a daily basis with my peers and colleagues to constantly learn and innovate.

Which achievement are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the diversity of my team: eight men and nine women and the development of their expertise. I am also proud to see the nomination of three new specialists from our lab community to expert level. When I was studying, I would have imagined myself where I am today.