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GE vice president speaks at SMC

Justin Tardiff | Friday, November 18, 2005

Susan Peters, alumna of Saint Mary’s Class of 1975 and vice president of executive development at General Electric Company (GE) spoke about the roles of women in corporate America at the Moreau Center for the Arts Thursday.

Peters’ lecture, “Leader-ship Development,” was part of the 2005 Shannon Executive Scholar Lecture, an honor granted annually to a Saint Mary’s alumna who has achieved exceptional success in the professional world.

Peters spoke to the audience about what she recognizes as good leadership skills among the CEOs and other top executives. She said skills such as problem-solving, courage, motivation, willingness to learn, effective communication and tenacity are valuable traits for management and executive positions.

“Find a place where early experiences give you stretch opportunities, because that’s where development takes place,” Peters said.

Peters said Saint Mary’s students have above average “performance, values and integrity – which are [their] tickets into the game.”

She said the important thing is what happens with a given ticket of talents – whether it is wasted or utilized efficiently.

Peters emphasized the importance of providing a positive place for everyone in the workplace.

“Provide an environment where everyone can excel,” she said.

There is value in real-life experience in conjunction with formal education, she said.

“You can sit in a lot of classrooms or training sessions, but your development will happen each and every day,” Peters said.

Peters said good leaders are able to swallow their pride and that “it’s OK to say, ‘I don’t know.'”

“Every leader is also a worker,” she said.

Peters’ message resonated with many senior business majors in the audience.

“Being a senior and knowing that we’ll be working at a company in less than a year, [Peters] gave good points on how to handle yourself and how to work your way up,” senior Bridget Boyce said.

Senior Megan McDiffett said Peters had “a lot of valuable insights” on the business world.

“A lot of things she spoke about we had talked about in business classes, and it was great to see that what we learn in class is applicable in the real world,” she said.