GE just announced its first-ever female vice chair: Beth Comstock, the company’s erstwhile CMO.
Comstock, 55, is now vice chair of business innovations. She joins three other male executives in the role of vice chair–a title that includes being close counselors to GE CEO and chairman Jeff Immelt, who has helmed the company for 14 years.
Immelt told Reuters the new role comes from Comstock’s championing of the “Industrial Internet.” In a Fast Company profile of Immelt and GE last year, we pointed to the 123-year-old company’s pivot to turning huge industrial sectors like jet engines and locomotives into data-first computers.
“Over the past few years,” Comstock told Fast Company in 2014, “it’s been very much about focusing the company on fewer, higher technology, more industrial businesses, and we’ve had to shed a lot of pieces of the company to get there.”
In addition to running the marketing and brand functions of GE, Comstock heads up its Business Innovations unit, which accelerates new business and helps established commercial ventures transition into GE’s technology universe. The Business Innovations arm houses GE Lighting, GE Ventures & Licensing, software commercialization and corporate marketing, sales, and communications.
Comstock also sits on Nike’s board of directors and is the trustee president of the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York.
Suggested reading: Behind GE’s Vision For The Industrial Internet Of Things