Robert J. Gilligan graduated from Bucknell University with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. He continued his studies at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a master of business administration in 1984. Since then, he has distinguished himself professionally and contributed greatly to the University and the College of Engineering.
Gilligan's career began in 1984 at Data General, where he held various roles in manufacturing management and corporate marketing. In 1990, he began working at General Electric, which provided him with the opportunity to grow his career in a number of different businesses and industries. He started in GE's healthcare business and progressed through a series of increasingly challenging roles in the areas of service operations and global product management.
In 1996, Gilligan joined GE's Industrial Systems business, where he held several leadership positions, including general manager of automation technology solutions. In 2004, he moved to GE Energy and was appointed general manager of the transmission and distribution business. Gilligan completely transformed the business and became a global advocate for grid modernization. In 2007, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt presented him with the Chairman's Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership and stellar accomplishments.
In 2008, Gilligan was elected as a GE officer and promoted to CEO of GE's Digital Energy business, which tripled its revenue under his leadership. In 2009, GE Energy selected him to participate in the Smart Grid Leadership Meeting in Washington, D.C. His industry expertise was sought by numerous media professionals, including those from Fortune, The Financial Times, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
In 2012, Gilligan became CEO of GE's Industrial Solutions business. Two years later, his scope expanded when the company's Intelligent Platforms became part of Industrial Solutions. Under Gilligan's leadership, Industrial Solutions' operating profit has increased five times, with an average 50 percent per year rate of improvement. In 2015 he was again recognized with the prestigious GE Chairman's Award for his leadership of the Industrial Solutions business.
Gilligan is a member of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Executive board. He has served as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, United Way and Hands on Atlanta Day, and has championed diversity initiatives with groups like the GE Hispanic Forum.
In 2015, Gilligan helped Bucknell secure a significant grant from GE to support the KEEN IDEAS interdisciplinary course sequence, the product archaeology course and design competitions. The length and depth of his commitment to Bucknell has been extraordinary, particularly through his service on the Advisory Committee of the Engineering Success Alliance.
Gilligan's accomplishments, service and dedication to his profession, society and the University have earned the respect and gratitude of his fellow engineering alumni. With the highest regard and warmest affection, the Bucknell University College of Engineering and the Bucknell Engineering Alumni Association present the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award to Robert J. Gilligan, Class of 1981.
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