GE is splitting into three parts. The CFO of its Healthcare unit outlines his strategy for 2023
“I’ve been with GE Healthcare now for two years,” CFO Helmut Zodl tells me. “And really my motivation to come here was to prepare the company and do the spinoff.” So attending GE Healthcare’s first investor day conference in New York City on Thursday felt like “being in the Super Bowl or the World Cup finals,” he says.
Originally from Austria, Zodl has worked globally in finance for the past 25 years. His vast experience includes various finance and divisional CFO roles at both Lenovo and IBM over the course of 15 years, he says. Now, he’s finance chief of the health care spinoff of the industrial conglomerate General Electric and navigating it into a new era.
GE Healthcare, which produces medical imaging equipment and tech devices, is expected to begin trading on Nasdaq on Jan. 4, under the ticker GEHC. Last month, the board of directors approved the spinoff, and a distribution to GE shareholders of at least 80.1% of the outstanding shares of GE Healthcare. For every three shares of GE stock an individual currently owns, they will receive one share of GE Healthcare. GE
In 2021, GE had a total revenue of $72.4 billion. The health care spinoff is the first step of GE’s plans to separate into three public companies. It plans to combine its renewable energy, power, and digital into one business, in early 2024. And then GE will become “an aviation-focused company shaping the future of flight,” according to the company.
I asked Zodl if going it alone in this macroenvironment is a concern.
Looking back at the 2000 dot com crash, or the recession in 2008, “our industry is quite stable, even during economic downturns” he says. “We are still seeing strong demand with our customers,” he explains. The long-term trends GE Healthcare sees include an aging population in a growing middle class with the need for better care and new types of medicines coming to the market, he says. “People still have to go to emergency rooms,” Zodl says. “People still have to do procedures.”
However, Zodl does have a recession playbook, which includes optimizing cost structure to fulfill customer demand, and ensuring there’s enough liquidity. “We’re going to be spinning off with strong liquidity—$1.8 billion cash on the balance sheet and a three and a half billion dollar facility that really will help us in case there will be a slowdown.”
Four areas—imaging, ultrasound, patient care solutions, and pharmaceutical diagnostics—make up the company’s about $18 billion in annual revenue.
“The imaging business, which is anything from a CT, MRI, and X-ray, is the biggest business—$9 to $10 billion,” Zodl says. GE Healthcare serves 1 billion patients every year with more than 2 billion procedures through services and devices, he says.
For the next three to five years, the company’s looking at organic mid-single-digit revenue growth, Zodl says. And margin expansion from the mid-to-high teens to 20% and free cash flow conversion of around 85% as an organization, he explains. “We’ll have a disciplined capital allocation framework to pay down debt, invest in the business, and strategic M&A, where it makes sense,” he says.
“The digital layer is becoming more and more important in our industry,” says Zodl, who has the IT division report to him. He recently hired Jahid Khandaker as the new chief information officer. Khandaker joins GE Healthcare from Western Digital, a data storage solutions company.
“You need to think about digital in two ways—on the device or in the cloud where it helps drive better clinical outcomes with A.I. enablement,” Zodl explains. This could be something like a measurement of a heart valve, or the measurement of a baby still in the womb, he says.
The other use for digital is to help productivity for clinicians. “A lot of challenges that our customers are facing are really around having staff shortages and having to do more with less stuff,” Zodl says.
He continues, “I spend a lot of time building the finance, IT, and strategy organizations. But I also spend a lot of time with [GE Healthcare CEO Peter Arduini] on building the overall organization as a team.”
I asked Zodl about his own leadership style. “I would call it servant leadership,” he says. “I’m here to help the teams, not the teams helping me.”
Have a good weekend.
The ESG Radar 2023 report by global IT consulting firm Infosys, found that 90% of executives surveyed said that environmental, social, and corporate governance initiatives showed positive financial returns for their companies. Infosys research found that a 10-percentage point increase in ESG spending correlates to a 1 percentage-point increase in profit growth. Forty-one percent said they experienced ESG returns in a two-to-three-year window, according to the report. The data is based on a survey of 2,500 global executives.
Here are a few weekend reads:
“‘Why do we allow this stuff?’ Jamie Dimon says investing in crypto tokens is like buying ‘pet rocks’” by Chloe Taylor
“A trillion-dollar opportunity? Rebuilding Ukraine will mean giant investments and potential big payoffs, say economists adding up the costs” by Vivienne Walt
“The crypto billionaire who helped expose SBF’s insolvency calls him ‘one of the greatest fraudsters in history’ and accuses media and thought leaders of being manipulated” by Will Daniel
“This CEO is just as obsessed with his wearable fitness tracker as you are” by Fortune editors
Here’s a list of some notable moves this week:
Jeremiah Ashukian was named EVP and CFO at Krispy Kreme, Inc. (Nasdaq: DNUT), effective Jan. 9. Ashukian will succeed Josh Charlesworth who has served as CFO since April 2017. Charlesworth will continue in his role as global president and COO. Ashukian most recently served as CFO of Mars Wrigley North America. He’s held various CFO roles in North America and Latin America at Mars, Inc. Ashukian also has experience leading M&A efforts, including Mars’ acquisition of KIND.
Kristina Salen was named CFO at Greenhouse, a hiring software company. Salen has nearly 30 years of experience. She was Etsy’s first CFO, taking the company public. Her previous roles also include CFO for United Masters, Moda Operandi, and WWE.
Jessica P. Ross was named SVP and CFO at Frontdoor, Inc. (Nasdaq: FTDR), a provider of home service plans. Ross is replacing Brian Turcotte, who will step down on Dec. 30. Ross joins Frontdoor from Salesforce.com, where she currently serves as EVP of enterprise strategy and operational excellence, and before that as EVP of finance chief transformation officer. Before Salesforce, Ross served at Stitch Fix as VP and chief accounting officer. Her professional experience also includes 12 years of public accounting experience at Arthur Andersen and Deloitte.
Ben Dunham was named CFO at TruGreen, a U.S. lawn care provider, effective January 9. Dunham succeeds Michael Sims, who will retire from the organization at the end of 2022. Dunham most recently served as the CFO of WeWork, where he helped the company transition into a time of rebuilding. Prior to WeWork, he was U.S. CFO for Pizza Hut, part of Yum Brands Inc.
Ismail (Izzy) Dawood as CFO at CURO Group Holdings Corp. (NYSE: CURO), a tech-enabled, omnichannel consumer finance company, effective Jan. 3. He succeeds Roger Dean, who recently retired. Dawood has previously served as CFO for Branch International, a financial services firm, WageWorks, Santander Consumer USA Holdings, and the Investment Services Division of BNY Mellon. Dawood started his career at Wachovia Corporation, where he rose to managing director of structured treasury activities.
Lori Beaudoin, EVP and CFO at The Duckhorn Portfolio, Inc. (NYSE: NAPA), a luxury wine company, intends to retire in the spring of 2023 after more than 13 years with the company. Duckhorn has launched a national search for a CFO. Beaudoin plans to continue in her role until her successor is in place. Afterward, she will become a senior advisor.
Mark A. Carano was named VP, CFO, and treasurer at SPX Technologies, Inc., (NYSE:SPXC), a manufacturer of products for the HVAC markets, effective Jan. 3. Carano joins SPX Technologies from Insteel Industries, Inc., where he served as SVP, CFO, and treasurer. Before joining Insteel, he was the CFO of Big River Steel LLC, until its sale to U.S. Steel in 2020. Before Big River Steel, Carano worked in senior management roles at Babcock & Wilcox.
Lance Ludman was named CFO at Benevity, Inc., a provider of global corporate purpose software, effective Dec. 21. Ludman joins Benevity’s executive team reporting directly to Kelly Schmitt, chief executive officer. Ludman brings over 20 years of experience. He most recently was CFO at DreamBox Learning. Before that, he worked in corporate development and as CFO for both the international and enterprise market divisions at Blackbaud.