Natarajan Venkatakrishnan (Venkat) has served as Director of Research & Development for GE Appliances, a division of GE Appliances & Lighting, since 2006. He also leads FirstBuild, a pioneering effort launched in 2014 that is using co-creation and micro-manufacturing to create a new world of home appliances.

GE Appliances, a $6 billion business that employs 12,000 employees, is an industry leader in major appliance products.

Venkat joined GE India in 1998 as a Six Sigma Black Belt and quickly moved into management roles in business development and R&D.  He relocated in 2002 to GE Appliances headquarters in Louisville, Ky., to lead the business’ Global Engineering and Advanced Analysis group, and was subsequently promoted to roles as Refrigeration Systems Manager and Advanced Development Manager for GE’s Appliances, Lighting and Industrial businesses.  

In his current roles, Venkat leads a team that is responsible for discovering and assessing new products and breakthrough technologies for potential adoption by the business.  He also has been a driving force in the creation of FirstBuild, a new model for the manufacturing industry that brings together engineers, designers, scientists and home enthusiasts from around the globe via, an online community. Community members participate in the development of breakthrough major appliances and solve deep engineering challenges, with some of the most promising ideas being brought to life at the new FirstBuild Microfactory slated to open this summer on the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus. Under Venkat’s leadership, FirstBuild will help reduce the time, cost and risk for products to go from mind to market, and will enable GE to move select products to larger scale production with more confidence because they have already been vetted by the new platform.

Venkat earned a B.Tech degree in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, India. He has more than 25 patent filings to date.

He is on the board of the Louisville Regional Science & Engineering Fair, Dupont Manual Science Fair and the Kentucky Statewide EPSCoR Committee

Venkat and his wife, Chitra, have two children. They reside in Louisville, Ky.