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Public Relations Professional turns Vice Chairman of GE

How a hard working woman made her way to the top

By: Kayla Pfenning


As a new and young PR professional entering the workforce, it is important to know what significant people have done to shape public relations as we know it today. There are many people that have made great contributions, but the one person that I admire most is a hardworking, dedicated person and I aspire to be just like her. Beth Comstock began her career by doing public relations for NBC and soon after started breaking down barriers and working her way up to the top, becoming the first woman vice chairman of General Electric(GE). Comstock inspires me to work harder for what I want, to become a successful business executive and to one day inspire other people to do the same.

A Powerful Force

Beth Comstock, former Vice Chairman of General Electric

In the beginning Comstock was shy and introverted, making it difficult for her to speak in meetings and to give her opinion. She quickly learned that she had to become more confident and learn to speak up for herself because that is a very important part of the job. In the sense of coming out of her shell, Comstock did just that and what she got in return was amazing. The power of expressing yourself and communicating well is a very important skill to have in this industry and in relation to how far working hard gets you. In 2015 and 2016 Comstock was named one of the “World's 100 Most Powerful Women” by Forbes.

Communication is Key

After being the vice chairman and chief marketing officer (CMO) of GE for many years, Comstock retired in 2017. Out of retirement she wrote a book called “Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change”. This book discusses how change is hard and that many people have a difficult time dealing with it, but our world is changing so quickly that people are going to have to adapt. Comstock does a great job getting her points across and communicating well with her audience. The way she writes is very passionate and powerful, which is why she was named one of the “20 most influential communicators” by PR Weekly in 2018.

Protect the environment

“Imagine it Forward” book, by Beth Comstock

Working with GE for over two decades gave Comstock some amazing opportunities and allowed her to be a part of many different initiatives . A major initiative that GE did was called Ecomagination, which was launched in 2005. The initiative is “GE’s growth strategy to enhance resource productivity and reduce environmental impact at a global scale through commercial solutions for our customers and through our own operations”. Comstock was an advocate for the environment and wanted to make sure it was protected. The Ecomagination initiative continued for many years, partly due to the hard work of Comstock.

Beth Comstock is an amazing example of a powerful woman that worked hard to get to where she is today. From starting with a PR job at NBC to becoming the first woman vice chairman at General Electric, Comstock’s achievements are amazing and something worthy of others emulating. Comstock believed that change is good and change needs to happen to move forward in life.


About the Author:

My name is Kayla Pfenning and I’m a journalism major with a concentration in public relations at the University of North Texas. I am a new and growing PR professional expecting to graduate in December 2021.