Case Study:

GE Healthcare

The Challenge

GE Healthcare Digital—well-known for its vast portfolio of innovative medical products—announced a split into three public companies in 2021. To lead the operations of this massive transition, the C-Suite engaged a fractional team of Big Wave consultants in 2018. The biggest challenge? Everything was under a cloak of secrecy! GE couldn’t disclose to the Big Wave team OR to their own people the multiple (and unavoidable) business changes needed to form these three new companies.

The Big Wave Approach

Working with GE’s VP of HR, Chris Englin brought in a team of Big Wave consultants—both for their HR expertise and their start-up skills. One expert, Jamie Ward, built a manual HR operations engine from scratch. This was equivalent to launching an 800-person start-up—including new benefits vendors, leave administration, visas, payroll, and employee retention. Adding to the complexity: he was obligated to use GE employment contracts, and no one knew about the pending company split.

Once GE established the new company, Big Wave added Ben Baker to create a manual multi-state recruiting function for 200 open positions—and anxious hiring managers. With two super-star project managers, Big Wave augmented the team with multi-taskers and problem-solvers dedicated to reaching the finish line, all within an ever-changing environment. Every time the path forward stabilized, GE announced new scenarios. Rough seas, indeed.

The Results

Ultimately, after 2 ½ years of under-the-radar support from Big Wave, GE Healthcare was able to create, acquire, consolidate, and divest their medical device portfolio companies and execute the confidential plan. The nimble Big Wave team of contracted HR experts successfully led the HR function for a spin-out, two acquisitions, a merger, a sale to a VC, and a final $5.7B acquisition by Athenahealth. GE placed extraordinary confidence in the Big Wave team to flawlessly execute the details, despite massive ownership changes.

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