A former GE and NBC exec who never got her MBA spent the first 90 days as an exec reading textbooks and embracing what she didn't know

Beth Comstock

  • When Beth
    Comstock
    was hired as chief marketing officer for General
    Electric
    , she spent her first 90 days on the job learning about
    the basics of marketing.
  • Comstock picked up Phil Kotler textbooks, read “The Four Ps of
    Marketing,” and hired people with the expertise she needed to teach
    her marketing.
  • She valued feedback and asked for help where she needed it. She
    said employees who act like they know everything will eventually
    get called out.

When Beth
Comstock
was hired as chief marketing officer for General
Electric, she spent her first 90 days on the job learning about the
basics of marketing.

Comstock reached the C-suite by
taking one day at a time and
overcoming her shyness
, she shared on an episode of Business
Insider’s podcast “This
Is Success
.” She spent 27 years at General
Electric
and former NBC properties,
eventually rising to the level of former vice chair at GE. She
recently wrote a memoir and career guide “Imagine
It Forward
.”

When Comstock was hired as CMO, GE hadn’t had a marketer in 20
years, she said. Without an MBA or any business schooling, she
spent the first three months as CMO learning the in’s and out’s of
her job.

“So it’s a very vulnerable moment to say, ‘I don’t know this.’
But clearly, I was put in the job because they saw something else,”
Comstock said. “So I had to also say, ‘I’m here for a reason. Don’t
try to be a business school person, because you didn’t go to
business school.'”

Read more:
A former GE and NBC exec says being introverted isn’t the same as
being shy, and she wasn’t successful until she figured out the
difference

To prepare, Comstock picked up textbooks by marketing consultant
Philip Kotler, read “The Four Ps of Marketing,” and hired people
with the expertise she needed to teach her marketing. She said most
employees at GE saw marketing as the advertising department, which
is what Comstock was doing at the time.

“So frankly, it wasn’t like I was filling some other job,” she
said. “No one really knew what marketing could be. So it was a
clean slate, in some respects.”

Even though Comstock grabbed the CMO position by the horns, she
asked for help when needed and valued feedback. As a
self-proclaimed introvert, Comstock said it took her time to open
up to others when asking for guidance.

“People were very generous, and some people didn’t have time for
me and you find the ones who do,” Comstock said. “So you have to
ask for help. You cannot go into these situations and go, ‘No, I’m
going to act like I know everything,’ because you’ll get called
out.”

Listen to the full episode and subscribe to “This Is
Success” on
Apple Podcasts
or Art19.

SEE ALSO: ‘It’s
not like I had this well-oiled plan’: Former GE and NBC exec Beth
Comstock reached the C-Suite by taking things one day at a
time

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former GE and NBC exec says there are 3 kinds of people who can
help you in your career


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A former GE and NBC exec who never got her MBA spent the first 90 days as an exec reading textbooks and embracing what she didn't know