Newswise — General Electric ranks as the best company for developing executive talent, according to a new ranking on the topic by Executive Development Associates, a global executive development firm The San Francisco-based firm conducted a survey of chief learning officers and human resources executives at companies around the globe in December 2004. The respondents each received a listing of more than 75 companies and voted for companies with exceptional executive development strategy, systems and programs.

"GE received 67.7 percent of the votes. The survey results certainly reinforce the company's reputation for leadership development. GE's peers view this company as the one to watch for developing executive talent," says James Bolt, Chairman of Executive Development Associates, Inc. The firm pioneered creating custom-designed executive development strategies, systems, and programs, and has worked with more than half of the Fortune 100 and other leading companies around the world. It also sponsors workshops, executive networks, and research to support the success of companies and their leaders.

The 10 companies with the most votes in the 2005 survey are:

1. GE 67.7%2. Johnson & Johnson 45.2%3. Dell Inc. 38.7% IBM 38.7% 5. Weyerhaeuser 35.5% 6. Bank of America 25.8% Pepsi Co. 25.8% UBS 25.8%9. Procter & Gamble 22.6% Cisco Systems 22.6%

Executive Development Associates plans to conduct the survey annually to recognize companies for their strategies and programs aimed at cultivating the next generation of business leaders.

"Research shows us that leading companies around the world lack the quality and depth of executive talent needed to grow and compete in the future, and many companies face increasingly complex strategic and managerial challenges even as their current executive teams are approaching the traditional retirement age," says Bolt.

The annual survey, Bolt says, will serve as a vehicle to showcase firms that consider increasing executive bench strength a top objective of their companies' development programs and processes in the years to come.

In addition to its "2005 Top 10 Executive Development Companies Peer Voting Survey," every two years the firm conducts a Trends Survey to allow senior executives and leadership development practitioners to compare their experience to others in the field and to anticipate the changes most important to the future. For its surveys, EDA polls senior-level learning and executive development professionals in the Global 500 corporations, as well as members of its Executive Leadership Development Networks—groups of leading corporate practitioners who meet regularly to share ideas and best practices.

"The need to invest in the next generation of business leaders is crystal clear," says Bolt. "Leadership—creating vision, enrolling and empowering others—has always ranked as the No. 1 topic in executive development programs around the world. The increasing complexity of the challenges facing organizations means we need to invest equally in building business acumen. Also, if companies are going to have the talent needed to grow and to win in the marketplace, they will have to invest heavily in integrated talent management systems that build deep bench strength, and create metrics to assess their effectiveness."

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