GE comms head Deirdre Latour to exit company next month

Linda Boff, GE CMO and chief learning officer, has taken on the additional responsibility of interim head of communications.

BOSTON: After 14 years at GE, Deirdre Latour is planning to leave her role as the company’s communications leader on March 16.

Latour, GE’s VP, chief communications officer, and senior adviser, is departing to pursue other opportunities, according to a statement.

Linda Boff, GE CMO and chief learning officer, has taken on the additional role of interim head of communications while the company conducts a search internally and externally.

Latour said she started to think about her career and what she wants to do next over the holidays.

"This is such an important job for GE, and it’s such a critical time," she said. "If I want to think through what my next step is, I need to have someone else do this job in order for me to do that."

Latour’s departure is set to take place just a few months after her role at GE was expanded in October to add senior strategy and leadership advisory responsibilities to her chief communications officer position.

Since Latour joined GE in 2004, she has held various communications roles at the company, starting in marketing and events, then moving to director roles in PR and communications. She took on the chief communications officer position in April 2015, succeeding Gary Sheffer. Prior to joining GE, Latour worked in the agency world at Edelman and Porter Novelli.

During her GE career, Latour led communications efforts for the CEO transition from Jeff Immelt to John Flannery and "built a stronger global external relations capacity around the world," according to a statement from the company.

Latour is seeking an in-house comms role, but said she is looking to work at "a very different type of company in a different industry."

"In the last year, and with my elevation to report to the CEO, [I have seen that] communications and the strategic managing of a reputation for a company is more critical now than it was five years ago," Latour said. "Companies really understand now that the comms person has to sit at the strategy table with the rest of the C-suite."

Latour has been a member of PRWeek’s Power List for the past two years.

GE vice chair Beth Comstock departed the company at the end of 2017. During her time at the company, Comstock oversaw GE Business Innovations as vice chair and served as CMO. Other senior leaders recently departing the company include former CFO and Jeffrey Bornstein and vice chair John Rice.

GE’s fourth quarter 2017 earnings missed analysts’ expectations, with revenue down 5% to $31.4 billion. The company is considering splitting its business into several units, according to media reports.

This story was updated on February 14 with quotes from Latour.

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