Former General Electric Chairman & CEO, 1981 – 2001
An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage
Born in Salem on November 19, 1935, Massachusetts, Jack received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and did his M.S. & PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois. He began his career with the General Electric Company in 1960, and in 1981 and later he became the 8th Chairman and CEO of GE.
Jack is presently the head of Jack Welch, LLC, where he serves as Special Partner with the private equity firm, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and is a consultant to IAC (Interactive Corp). He is a contributor on a variety of television network business shows and speaks to business audiences & students around the world. Jack also teaches a leadership course at Sloan School of Management. Jack is a business writer of a widely read weekly column The Jack Way, which he writes with his wife, Suzy Jack.
During his tenure as the CEO of GE, GE’s market capitalization rose from $13bn to $400bn, while revenues grew from $27bn to $125bn and earnings grew tenfold to almost $14bn. In 2000, he was named “Manager of the Century” by esteemed Fortune magazine.
During 1980s, Jack worked to streamline GE’s operations and make it a more competitive company. His philosophy was that a company should be either No.1 or No.2 in a particular industry, or else close it completely. Jack’s strategy has been adopted by other CEO’s across the corporate world.
He had little time for bureaucracy and archaic business ways. If managers didn’t change according to the requirements they were replaced with someone that could adapt. Managers were given free reign as long as they followed the GE ethics of constant change and striving to do better every time.
Some industry analysts claim that Jack is given too much credit for GE’s success. They contend that individual managers are largely responsible for the company’s success. Jack has also received criticism over the years for an apparent lack of compassion for the middle class and working class.
Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Jack is an exceptional leader who improved the General Electric company dramatically. His management ideas and leadership skills are both admired by business philosophers and imitated by business leaders worldwide.