General Electric Co.

is disbanding its Corporate Audit Staff program, a rigorous multiyear rotation through various divisions that the conglomerate has long used to groom future leaders.

The CAS program, a proving ground for young GE finance executives, dates back to the early 20th century. Employees worked long hours and traveled the world analyzing various business units, looking for waste or reviewing internal controls.

The end of the program is part of Chief Executive Larry Culp’s effort to simplify operations. GE has sold off assets, cut costs and shrunk the headquarters staff that oversee divisions such as GE Energy and GE Aviation. Last month, GE reported costs for its corporate operation dropped 9% in the third quarter to $275 million.

The change also was influenced by the company’s new finance chief, Carolina Dybeck Happe, who formally joined earlier this year.

The CAS program traditionally reported to the CFO. The full program lasted five years, with few participants surviving for that long.

“Running GE differently means equipping our developing leaders with increased operational depth and domain expertise,” a GE spokeswoman said. “We are evolving a core talent development program to deliver these competencies with greater focus.”

GE is splitting up the program by moving the leadership development portion into the individual business units so workers get deeper operational experience, while creating a separate internal auditing team. The changes will happen over six to nine months, the company said.

The change wasn’t related to federal investigations into GE’s accounting practices or the recent warning that the Securities and Exchange Commission may bring civil charges against the company over its bookkeeping, GE said.

Ms. Dybeck Happe has made several changes to the company’s finance function, including focusing on organizational issues and making the department leaner. GE also is switching audit firms next year, hiring Deloitte to replace KPMG after more than a century.

Write to Nina Trentmann at [email protected] and Ted Mann at [email protected]

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