GE, Siemens suffer executive losses as Trani and Miller seek new pastures

January 8, 1997

Former GEMS executive trades big iron for small ironIs there an executive brain drain affecting medical imaging? Two men widely regarded as among the most influential in the industry—John Trani at GE and Thomas Miller at Siemens—have

Former GEMS executive trades big iron for small iron

Is there an executive brain drain affecting medical imaging? Two men widely regarded as among the most influential in the industry—John Trani at GE and Thomas Miller at Siemens—have left their respective companies for jobs outside radiology. Both men were responsible for reshaping their firms into more than just scanner manufacturers.

Trani's departure was the more visible of the two. The 51-year-old GE veteran left the Milwaukee vendor to take a position as chairman and CEO of The Stanley Works, a $2.6 billion New Britain, CT, company best known for its Stanley Tools line of products. Replacing Trani is Jeffrey Immelt, who previously was head of GE's $3 billion GE Plastics unit.

Meanwhile, Miller is leaving Siemens to become president and CEO of Carl Zeiss Bio+Med Systems, a subsidiary of German optics firm Carl Zeiss, which manufactures microscopes and ophthalmic instruments. Miller was group vice president of imaging systems at Siemens' U.S. subsidiary, Siemens Medical Systems, in Iselin, NJ. He reported to president and CEO Robert Dumke.

Trani's departure ends an 18-year career with GE. He was named to head GE Medical Systems in 1986 and began his tenure with the goal of making GE the major player in every modality in which the company participates. Trani either guided GE to prominence or maintained GE's leadership position in several markets, including MRI, CT, mammography, and x-ray.

Trani did experience some setbacks at GE, however. GEMS decided to sell its PET assets to Positron last year, seven years after acquiring the business from Scanditronix in 1989 (SCAN 7/31/96). Dominance in ultrasound, a goal that Trani cited as one of his priorities on taking over the top spot at GEMS, also eluded the company for years. At last month's Radiological Scoiety of North America meeting, however, Trani characterized GE's ultrasound business last year as a "wonderful success," due to the introduction of the MR and MD upgrades to the Logiq 700 and Logiq 500 platforms.

GE also suffered several legal setbacks in the last two years, losing a jury verdict on MRI patent infringement to Fonar in 1995 and becoming the target of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of service practices last summer (SCAN 6/7/95 and 8/28/96).

The most important trend under Trani's watch, however, has been GE's increasing appetite for taking over services formerly thought to be outside the realm of a medical imaging vendor. In 1994 GE implemented its CompreCare multivendor service and asset management program, which has been emulated by several competitors.

In an interview at last month's RSNA meeting, Trani said his goal was to extend the scope of GE's influence at healthcare facilities.

"We want every dollar that (hospitals) have to spend," Trani told SCAN. "Everything that is in our purview, we would like them to favor us with. The philosophy is that many institutions, as they consolidate, want to have one-stop shopping." While Miller did not have quite the prominence that Trani had, he might have eventually achieved it, given his rapid rise at Siemens. The 39-year-old executive worked for Siemens for 14 years, moving up quickly through the ranks of the German vendor's MRI organization, which he headed from 1991 to 1994. Along the way he restructured the unit to make it more cost-competitive and profitable.

Like Trani, Miller took a big-picture view of medical imaging, seeking to place it within the overall context of healthcare delivery. He often discussed developing clinical pathways in which diseases would be diagnosed and treated using established criteria. Miller also spearheaded the creation of Siemens Managed Healthcare Services, a new Siemens business unit designed to use the vendor's expertise in corporate reengineering to help hospitals wring out operational inefficiencies (SCAN 5/8/96).

Miller cites the establishment of the unit as one of his main accomplishments at Siemens. Another high point of Miller's career was the wresting of global MRI leadership from GE. Siemens claims to be the leader in global MRI sales in both dollars and units shipped, according to Miller.

Miller characterizes his departure from Siemens as amicable—indeed, he will be working at Siemens this month until his job at Carl Zeiss begins in February. Although Zeiss is not a medical imaging company in the strictest sense, there are synergies between the company's products and those of vendors like Siemens. In some cases, medical imaging products are being integrated with optics devices like those manufactured by Carl Zeiss, in particular in the image-guided surgery segment.

"Surgery in the future will be like navigating the Paris sewer system," Miller said. "You need a map of the system and a flashlight. I used to be in the map business. I'm now in the flashlight business."