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Justin Whitman

Justin Whitman

GE Aviation plant loses first HR director to corporate HQ

By Billy Davis

Justin Whitman, the first human resources leader at GE Aviation in Batesville, has been snatched away for a job at corporate headquarters.

Whitman will serve as organization and staffing manager under GE Aviation executive Renee Hahn in Cincinnati.

“Please join me in congratulating Justin on his new role,” Hahn, senior human resources leader, said in a statement released in September.

GE Aviation has posted the HR opening in Batesville and expects to hire internally, Whitman told The Panolian.

Whitman moved to Oxford in early 2008, before the mammoth plant was under construction. He has worked for GE since 2006, when he was employed as human resources leader at a Kentucky plant. He previously worked for the Owens Corning Corporation before being hired at GE.

Whitman earned his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in organizational leadership/human resources.

“What I’m most proud of giving others an opportunity to join GE and start something new,” he said, referring to the assembly line workers known in the company as plant associates. 

Starting pay at the Batesville Composites Operation is $14 an hour, plus benefits, for the associates who manufacture composite materials for the GEnx jet engine.

The Batesville plant has received more than 3,000 applications for its associate jobs.

Whitman will oversee the hiring of 25 new associates, all before the end of the year, while transitioning to the new corporate job.

Whitman has been in the public eye a lot in one year, most notably by overseeing volunteer efforts at the Boys and Girls Club and at Batesville Elementary School.

He also established contacts with The Panolian soon after coming to Batesville, ensuring the newspaper was informed of timely news at the high profile plant.

Panolian publisher John Howell Sr. credited Whitman for being “pro-active” by reaching out to the Batesville community.

“Justin was good at demonstrating this new corporate culture in which GE Aviation is involved with the community it serves,” said Howell.

 “I felt my role was to get to know the people in the community, which included The Panolian,” Whitman explained.

“Why wouldn’t you have a dialogue with the local newspaper when you’ve got so many good things going on?” he asked. 

Whitman will make the move to Cincinnati with wife Wendy, and sons Drew and Dylan.