FAIRFIELD, CT: GE CCO Gary Sheffer is stepping down after 12 years leading communications at the multinational corporation. He will retire at the end of this year.
Deirdre Latour, senior director of external communications, will succeed him on April 1. Like Sheffer, Latour will report to CMO Beth Comstock.
Sheffer, who joined GE in 1999, began leading the global comms and public affairs department as VP of corporate communications and public affairs in 2003.
"I’ve had such a great run here," he said. "I’m so lucky to have been part of this company and been given the chance to be a leader, so I feel blessed in that sense."
Sheffer added that he is looking forward to the next chapter of his career.
"I’m so excited; I’m open to everything," he explained. "I really love the work, so I’m going to reflect on it a little bit over the coming months and look for a place where I can contribute, including to our profession."
Sheffer has held high-ranking positions on PRWeek’s Power List numerous times, and he was chair of judges for the 2012 PRWeek Awards.
During his tenure at the Fairfield, CT-based company, Sheffer was instrumental in developing GE’s brand message, Imagination at Work. Its comms team also created thought-leadership websites such as Ideas Lab and Txchnologist and boosted its storytelling across channels.
Sheffer also helped to steer the company through the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, as well as reports that it paid no taxes in the US in 2010 despite turning a worldwide profit of $14.2 billion, including $5.1 billion in the US.
He added that this is also his last year as chairman of the board of the Arthur W. Page Society, so he will have more time to focus on his work for the group.
Prior to GE, Sheffer spent 17 years in journalism and government communications, including serving as a press aide to former New York Governors Mario Cuomo and George Pataki. He was also a reporter for the Albany Times Union from 1986 to 1989.
As senior director of external communications, a role Latour has held since 2013, she has played a key role in GE’s financial comms, issues and crisis management, and external communications for its C-suite executives, the company said in a statement.
Before joining GE in 2004, Latour worked at Edelman as a VP, handling corporate communications, branding, cause, consumer, and entertainment marketing efforts. She worked on accounts such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, Acuvue, and General Motors.
"I am excited to work with this amazing team that Gary Sheffer brought together," said Latour, in a statement. "[Sheffer’s] leadership elevated GE communications to new strategic heights, and I am looking forward to building on that great work."