As chief information officer for the GE Capital Technology Center in New Orleans, Mike De Boer has led the company’s establishment of the center since 2012. He oversees all facets of the company’s new 70,000-square-foot Center of IT Excellence located in the city’s Central Business District.
[EQ] What is the focus of GE Capital’s new technology center in New Orleans?
[De Boer] The center is being built to provide vital services to our customers in the areas of security, storage and cloud computing, and software development and engineering capacity. It’s part of a broader initiative of delivering those products and services to our customers in the best possible way.
[EQ] What was the most important factor in GE Capital’s decision to site its technology center in New Orleans?
[De Boer] What was most important was the state’s flexibility in putting together a program that matched our needs. Louisiana’s incentives are important, but the thing that really came to bear in our decision was the state’s flexibility in understanding and then designing what we needed for the center to succeed.
[EQ] So that sort of flexibility is unusual?
[De Boer] Yes, absolutely. And flexibility is possible only because of the high degree of collaboration between partners at all levels in the state. In Louisiana, you see efforts in the state Legislature aligning with what state and local economic developers and universities are doing to create jobs and promote growth. That level of collaboration is rare, and it is powerful in getting things done. It creates momentum, and momentum creates opportunities to grow the workforce.
[EQ] Tell us about GE Capital’s growth since coming to Louisiana.
[De Boer] We have 180 people in New Orleans, so we are well on our way to 300 employees by the end of 2015.
[EQ] So you are finding the skilled IT workforce you need to grow?
[De Boer] We are having success in finding local talent in New Orleans, and we are also recruiting talent from other areas of Louisiana and out of state. It’s a healthy combination. We’re hiring locally and also bringing new talent to the city with specialized skills that are in high demand.
[EQ] How does your alliance and internship program with the University of New Orleans (UNO) work as a strategic advantage for GE Capital?
[De Boer] The UNO partnership is critical because it means that we have a pipeline of employees, while UNO students are getting a two-year head start on the competition in entering the job market with significant experience in software development.
[EQ] Does the tech sector’s overall growth in New Orleans and the state benefit GE Capital?
[De Boer] We are excited when we see announcements like CSC in North Louisiana and IBM in Baton Rouge. Having more technology employers in the area means more skills and more talent. Everybody benefits. Growth helps everybody.