Sue Siegel, who featured on GCV's Powerlist five times from 2014 to 2019, has won the Lifetime Achievement Award 2020 for service to the venture and innovation ecosystem.

Sue Siegel departed from her roles as chief innovation officer (CIO) of GE and chief executive of its corporate venturing unit, GE Ventures, at the end of July last year.

She reported directly to Larry Culp, chairman and CEO of GE, who said at her retirement: “After seven years at GE… Sue’s innovative thinking and hard work helped GE explore and enter new technologies, business models, and be more closely linked to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“Her impact on the company will live on in the many employees she mentored.”

Siegel had been CEO of Healthymagination, GE’s healthtech program, since 2012. She became CEO of GE Ventures in 2013 to help distinguish the unit from predecessor GE Capital, before being promoted to CIO at its parent in 2017.

Siegel has been responsible for backing about 100 healthcare, IT, manufacturing and energy-oriented startups and managing portfolio companies on behalf of GE Ventures. She also led the unit’s licensing efforts, generating value for GE’s investments and capitalising returns.

Sue Siegel in receiving her GCV Lifetime Achievement Award on the first morning of th eGCVI Summit 2020, presented by Greg Heibel, partner at law firm Orrick, said corporations were using buy, build and partnering strategies informed and supported by their venturing units, which were “here to stay”.

After her departure, GE head of business development John Godsman and his team were appointed to oversee GE Ventures. The corporate business development division, which has already participated in the unit’s capital allocation decisions in the past, also incorporated the licensing business.

The new CIO, David Mayhew, now heads GE Ventures under Andrea Assarat, senior managing director of business development, while Patrick Patnode, president of licensing at GE Ventures, continued in his role, reporting to Rob Duffy, vice-president of global business development.

For GE it is a now a case of rebuilding after financial challenges at the parent group, including an $11bn charge, had seen liquidity concerns and shares down by 65% in the past two years amid a break-up of the company. The turmoil primarily in GE’s power unit meant the corporate parent was forced into radical restructuring and a secondary sale of at least some of its healthcare-focused portfolio companies and the departure of many of the top team Siegel had built up to help the conglomerate transition the age of turbulence and move into a digital era.

Siegel herself joined GE from venture capital firm Mohr Davidow Ventures along with partners Marianne Wu and Alex De Winter, selected respectively as GCV’s Rising Stars in 2017 and 2019.

Wu, who became president of GE Ventures before leaving at the end of last year before a new role at venture capita firm 40 North after it raised $200m, said: “Sue is a true champion for innovation. At GE, she combined both internal and external innovation to drive transformational change. She is a uniquely skilled building bridges between operators and innovators and delivering value to both. She is also an extraordinary leader that inspires the best from her teams. She led us to do our best for our company, for each other as team members and for ourselves as individuals. I am grateful to have worked with her!”

Siegel’s background was in healthcare investing for Mohr Davidow from 2007 and a career in the industry stretching back 30 years to 1985 at chemicals company DuPont and Bio-Rad Laboratories, then later as president of both Affymetrix and Amersham – acquired by GE – and before that as a student in Boston and Puerto Rico.

Siegel has since joined the boards of genetic technology provider Illumina, Align Technology and the Kaiser Family Foundation reflecting her continued desire to impact the world as she has done over her career. Siegel was recognised in Fortune’s list of 34 Leaders Who Are Changing Healthcare and was named one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women by the California Diversity Council and been on Harvard Partners’ Healthcare Innovation Advisory Board, the Scientific Advisory Board of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Stanford Medicine Board of Fellows, University of California’s Innovation Council and USC’s Schaeffer Centre for Health Policy and Marshall School of Business Board of Leaders.

She is now also given back to the students as a lecturer at MIT and a board member of its Engine investment unit. Her keynote speech at 2018’s Global Corporate Venturing and Innovation Summit reflected the challenges ahead: “Change is going so fast.

“If you think of it, today is as slow as it is going to get; in the future, you will see the current time as slow, which means things are only going to accelerate – which is a scary perspective. We already feel how tumultuous everything is, and how we struggle to keep up with all the technologies. And yet things are only going to get faster.

“What this means from a CVC point of view, is that we cannot get complacent. We need to continue challenging ourselves.”