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Mellor, Dee 1957–

Dee Mellor
1957

Vice president and general manager, GE Healthcare

Nationality: American.

Born: June 7, 1957.

Education: University of Massachusetts, BS, 1978.

Family: Married Gary (last name unknown); children: two.

Career: General Electric, 1978, manufacturing management program; 19791995, positions in GE Aircraft Engine's supply-chain division, manufacturing, quality control, and materials and logistics; GE Engine Services, 19951998, various positions; 19982000, product-support manager; 20002002, general manager of U.S. and Asian service operations; GE Medical Systems (now GE Healthcare), 2002, vice president and general manager of global-supply chain.

Awards: Named one of the Global Inflentials, Time, 2002; named College of Engineering Alumna of the Year, University of Massachusetts, 2003.

Address: GE Healthcare, 300 North Grandview Boulevard, Waukesha, Wisconsin 53188; http://www.gehealth care.com.

Diane (Dee) Mellor spent her career at General Electric (GE) in a variety of engineering roles, but she was best known in her position as vice president and head of global supply-chain operations for GE Healthcare. Mellor's primary talent was her ability to lead her employees and officers through frequent changes in technology, products, and training. Her substantial problem-solving skills, quick mind, and ability to set and meet long-term goals led to an increase of component production by 20 percent in her first 18 months as head of global supply-chain operations. Coworkers and employees described Mellor as an intelligent and energetic leader who motivated employees to complete difficult tasks in a productive and efficient manner.

STARTING ON THE ENGINEERING PATH

Mellor's early push toward becoming an engineer was supported by her academic environment, her family, and her own aptitude and intelligence. Engineering was an unusual goal for a woman at a time when men dominated the field. Mellor's parents fully supported her in her career choice. Her mother, Pat, told her that she could do anything she wanted "even if it wasn't fashionable for a woman at the time" (Landmark, November 2002). Through their natural competitiveness her brothers unwittingly helped her develop the toughness and ability to stand her ground that she needed to break into the male-dominated field. Mellor's aptitude in the sciences allowed her to combine her senior year of high school and her freshman year of college in 1974 at Quinsigamond Community College. In 1975 she enrolled at the University of Massachusetts, and in 1978 she was one of only three women to graduate with a degree in industrial engineering and operations research.

MORE PUZZLES TO SOLVE

Mellor began a management-training program at GE in 1978. Following completion of the program she began to work as an engineer in the manufacturing of jet engines. She flourished in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the GE aircraft-engine division, whose tough managers were no match for her quick intellect and ability to solve problems. Mellor began as a process engineer and over the next 10 years met every challenge placed in front of her. At 35 years of age, she earned the opportunity to run a GE aircraft-engine-parts plant in Wilmington, North Carolina. She was the first woman ever to run an engine line. Five years later, in 1992, she spearheaded GE's $1.6-billion acquisition-integration of Greenwich Aviation Services. In 1995 Mellor became head of GE's worldwide aircraft-engines product-support operation. She continued to thrive in the intense environment of GE engineering. As she learned new things and solved additional problems, GE was large enough to provide new challenges.

ON-TIME AND ON-BUDGET

In 2000 the chief financial officer of GE Medical Systems (now GE Healthcare) recognized Mellor's hard work, global experience, and ability to pull projects and personnel together and invited her to head GE Medical Logistics. The position provided Mellor a new challenge, and she proved to be a success. At GE, she said, "there isn't a job I've had that I haven't loved, because you are always being challenged and being put in places where you can learn and grow" (Landmark, November 2002). Mellor increased productivity in the components department to levels that had not been achieved before. She found efficient ways to keep plants thriving in the United States and get products where and when they needed to go. She also used her decision-making skills to determine a project's short- and long-term profitability. For example, in 2001 she had to make the tough decision on where to relocate the plant that manufactured a crucial part of a CT scanner. She could move the plant to India, where it would show short-term growth but no market expansion, or to China, where the manufacturing market had room to expand. Although India had a proven team and facility, she chose China because it had growth potential and an experienced pool of material scientists.

In addition to her global perspective and creation of production plants overseas, Mellor had success in keeping U.S.-based plants profitable and hiring. She had a decisive, efficient, and intelligent management style and utilized her skills to keep specialized employees and managers trained and up to date on new products and their production methods. Also, she made sure that the company continually evaluated production-line procedures in search of improvement.

MENTORING

Mellor recognized that she developed critical skills on surviving in the corporate environment through her family life, high-school career, and experience breaking into the male-dominated world of engineering. To pass on her experiences to other women seeking to advance in the corporate world, Mellor was instrumental in beginning a women's network at GE in 1997 focused on "enabling and empowering women" early in their careers (Landmark, November 2002). As an executive on the team, she helped focus the group on the practical issues of professional development such as finding mentors, writing resumes, giving presentations, pushing back when pushed, and creating local networks. Through projects such as the GE women's network, Mellor found herself being joined by a growing number of female executive and engineers.

See also entry on General Electric Company in International Directory of Company Histories.

sources for further information

Megnin, Ria, "Holden Native Engineers a TIME-worthy Career," Landmark, November 2002.

Thottam, Jyoti, "2002 Global Influentials," Time, November 22, 2002.

Dawn Jacob Laney

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