Lloyd G. Trotter Biography
Took First Job, Rose to Top at GE, Helped Minorities in GE, Contributed to His Community
From the start of his business career, when he helped integrate a Cleveland factory, Lloyd Trotter was a forerunner. Later, as president and CEO of GE Industrial, a branch of General Electric, he continued helping to open doors for other minorities and women. Despite his busy work schedule, Trotter also gives selflessly of his time and resources by volunteering with a wide variety of organizations, including the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), which named a scholarship after him.
Took First Job
Very little information is known about Trotter's early years; even his birth year, 1945, is questioned. Not surprisingly, however, his first known biographical details relate to his career in business. While attending high school in Cleveland, Ohio, Trotter was drawn to a new journeyman program at Cleveland Twist Drill, a manufacturer of machining tools. Cleveland Twist Drill was trying to diversify its workforce and was interested in hiring African-American journeymen. After many discussions with his father, Trotter decided to enter the program instead of going to college in 1963.
On the day of his interview, Trotter met with opposition. The security guard had not been informed of the changes that were coming and he told the young man the company was not hiring. After insisting that he had an interview, the guard checked and Trotter was allowed in. He also received an apology from the company president. On his first day working at Cleveland Twist Drill, however, he was met with stares and silence. Trotter persevered and overcame obstacles. He completed the program. He also changed his mind about college and enrolled at Cleveland State University, where he majored in business administration, receiving a bachelors' degree in 1972.
Rose to Top at GE
Trotter began his career at General Electric (GE) in 1970. He started as a field service engineer at GE Lighting. He quickly rose through the ranks, taking several positions in production and technology in the various branches of the company. By 1990 he became vice president and general manager of manufacturing for GE's Electrical Distribution & Control (ED&C) division. During his tenure, he was responsible for the entire manufacturing process as well as for integrating the 40 production facilities around the world.
Trotter continued to shine and soon was promoted to president and CEO of ED&C. When ED&C merged with GE Industrial Controls Systems, Trotter was given the top position as well as a senior vice president post in the parent company in 1998. In 2003 Trotter's responsibilities increased when his branch of GE expanded. The corporation, now known as GE Industrial, was a $13 billion business with 73,000 employees in 150 global locations. And among the top executives at GE, Trotter was the lone minority.
The president and CEO of GE, Jack Welch, felt that in order for the company to continue to grow, GE must diversify its workforce. He told the New York Times, in an article quoted on the Global Diversity At Work Web site, "Diversity isn't just a nice corporate program, it's a business and global reality." Welch had begun the restructuring of GE in the 1980s. He eliminated numerous management positions in an attempt to "delayer" the company. Many thought this would give many minorities and women the chance to move into positions that would have normally been closed to them. However, eliminating a high number of managerial positions only resulted in heavier workloads for the managers that were left.
Helped Minorities in GE
Welch gathered a number of executives together to discuss ways to continue diversifying the workforce. Trotter was among a number of minority executives included in the gathering. He and 14 other African-American executives met together beforehand to work on their presentation. In a roundtable discussion conducted by the Harvard Business Review, Trotter recounted that he began critiquing himself and came to the conclusion that black executives at GE needed to help "redirect people of color so they have a better shot at winning the game." The group came to the conclusion that minorities must meet one another but only in ways that would not create a backlash against them. Their idea was met with approval from Welch.
Trotter, along with Steven Thorne, a human resources manager, and a number of African-American executives soon formed the African-American Forum. Blacks employed at GE could come together in hopes of helping one another learn and understand GE's personnel policies. They also started a mentor program to help those who wanted to rise in the ranks at GE. GE's senior executives were required to participate in the mentor program.
The African-American Forum was a success and since its goals matched those of the company, there was no backlash among the predominantly white members or other minorities. Also, due in part to the success of the Forum, the women of GE as well as other minorities began their own groups to help those who needed help with both promotions and understanding GE's policies.
Contributed to His Community
Despite the demands of his successful run to the top at GE, Trotter has always found time to give back to the community. He was in charge of GE's contributions to America's Promise, a program started by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. He is also the chairman of the board of governors of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, as well as a board member of such organizations as the National Associations of Manufacturers, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, and the GE Foundation. He is also a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), which awards the Lloyd Trotter African American Forum Scholarship to exceptional college undergraduates. The scholarship is funded by GE employees and the GE Foundation.
Trotter's success and contributions to society have been noticed by a number of organizations. He was given an honorary doctorate in business by his alma mater, Cleveland State University, in 2001. He was also awarded the Benjamin Mays Award by A Better Chance, an organization that helps promising minority students continue their education. In his acceptance speech, posted on the A Better Chance Web site, he stated, "There's nothing more rewarding than doing what you love—particularly when it results in being the best you can be." With his dogged determination to rise through the ranks, Lloyd Trotter helped pave the way for a number of GE minority employees who wanted to break through the glass ceiling that has kept many from achieving their highest potential. His willingness to help others in the community has placed him among a select few who truly understand the phrase "each one teach one." Trotter is married with three children.
Cracking the Corporate Code: The Revealing Success Stories of 32 African-American Executives, American Management Association, 2003.
Who's Who Among African Americans, 18th Edition, Gale, 2005.
Ebony, November 2001, p.14.
Harvard Business Review, September-October 1997, P. 118-33.
New York Times, September 3, 2000.
"A Better Chance Presents Top Award to Lloyd Trotter," A Better Chance, www.abetterchance.org/AboutUs/MediaCenter/PressRelease/Trotter.html (December 1, 2005).
"Executive Bios & Photos: Lloyd G. Trotter," General Electric, www.ge.com/en/company/companyinfo/executivebios/eb_trotters.htm (December 1, 2005).
"GE 'Lloyd Trotter' African American Forum Scholarship For Undergraduate Students," National Society of Black Engineers, www.nsbe.org/programs/schol_ge.php (December 1, 2005).
"Lloyd G. Trotter," Forbes, www.forbes.com/finance/mktguideapps/personinfo/FromPersonIdPersonTearsheet.jhtml?passedPersonId=355631 (December 1, 2005).
"The NEXT STEP Diversity 100," Global Diversity At Work, http://www.diversityatwork.com/news/nov00/dot_coms_sa.html (December 1, 2005).
"Where General Electric Falls Short: Diversity at the Top," Mindfully Website, http://www.mindfully.org/Industry/GE.htm (December 1, 2005).
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