News at Smith

Two Smith Alumni Win Prestigious Award at GE

Nov 05, 2011
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What do Smith alumnus Dennis Cinelli and alumna Jamie Lee have in common? Both graduated from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business in 2005; both went to work for GE upon graduation; both joined the company’s Corporate Audit Staff; and both were awarded the company’s most prestigious award for young professionals in 2011: the Chairman’s Circle Award.

“It’s an honor to win this award,” Cinelli said. “Everyone eligible for the award is doing great work and working really hard, so it was a good surprise.”

Members of the Corporate Audit Staff, a career acceleration and leadership program, have to be nominated to receive the Chairman’s Circle Award, with awards given to the top eight performers each year, according to Aditya Narain ’04, an executive audit manager for GE.

“I knew I was in the running because I had been nominated, but this is an award where only eight are selected from the approximately 450-person Corporate Audit Staff organization. When my name was called, I was overwhelmed with differing emotions – I was honored, surprised, happy and nervous at the same time. It was a great experience,” Lee said about winning the award.

Cinelli and Lee are both senior audit managers responsible for teams of 15 to 25 people, located around the world at any given point in time. “Having the opportunity to manage a group of this size – that is both geographically and culturally diverse – showcases one’s leadership skills. It’s certainly a great position for someone who has just graduated a few years ago & positions them well for continued career growth within the company,” Narain said.

Matt Cribbins, vice president of GE Global Audit explained, “The Chairman’s Circle Award is a very prestigious award and recognizes individuals not only for proven performance but also for exemplifying the values that we require of our leaders – inclusiveness, external focus, courage and imagination. The list of past winners is impressive and many have gone on to become great GE business leaders. We expect that Dennis and Jamie will carry on this tradition of excellence.”

The award recipients had the opportunity to have lunch with GE Chairman & CEO, Jeff Immelt. “It was an inspiring experience to spend the time with the Chairman, hearing about his career and decisions he has to make in his position,” Lee said. “He was very personable and was interested in hearing from each one of us on the work we had done and our background.”

Cinelli agreed with Lee’s sentiments, “Jeff is a real dynamic guy and is very optimistic. He puts you on the spot and spent the first 40 minutes of the lunch asking us what did each of us did to get where we were. He asked each person what he or she liked about GE and what we would you change about the company.”

The University of Maryland is one of GE’s 45 Executive Schools in the U.S. for recruiting. Last year GE hired 12 full-time employees and 13 interns.

“GE has been actively recruiting at Maryland for more than 20 years and has consistently benefited from the top graduates who have joined GE’s leadership development programs in Finance, IT, Engineering, Operations, HR and Sales and Marketing,” said Steve Canale, manager of global recruiting and staffing services.

“I heard about GE for the first time from career fair and I reached out to some Maryland alumni that were currently working at GE to learn more about the company, the culture and the Finance Management Program role. It was great to have such a helpful network connected through Smith,” Lee said. “I was interviewed on campus by GE for the first round for a Finance Management Program role with the company.”

If you are interested in learning more about GE’s leadership programs, be sure to visit

Jessica Smith, Writer and Editor, Office of Marketing Communications

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.