Person of the Week: Jack Welch, MBA, Former CEO of General Electric

Beth Parks
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    Our Person of the Week series is designed to inspire and encourage students to pursue a career in the many dynamic areas of business with their Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). With your MBA, you can earn a great deal more money, and help businesses in all sectors become more competitive and successful. As Dr. Seuss said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose…” – ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!’-

    Person of the Week for February 4, 2013

    Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, is one of the most respected and celebrated business people in the world. He has long been renowned for his excellent track record of business success, love of people, and a strong passion for success and winning. His unmatched desire to change the world for the better with his innovative management practices is simply known as The Welch Way.

    Accomplishments

    Welch joined GE when he was just 24, and worked his way up the ladder through many divisions. He was named the CEO of the company in 1981 at age 45. In his 21 years running the corporation, Welch changed GE into one of the world’s most successful and admired companies. He did this with his renowned management techniques. Revenues at GE grew from $25 billion to $130 billion, income increased 10 times, and the company saw its market capitalization grow 30 times to over $400 billion. His achievements in growing GE are considered some of the most impressive ever in the world of business, and thousands of companies around the globe have adopted The Welch Way.

    At GE, he also built the best corporate training center in the world, the Jack Welch Management Institute, and often taught there himself. In more recent years, he has taught a very popular course as a visiting professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

    After he retired from GE in 2001, Welch made it clear that he was just getting started in his business career. He has since written two bestselling books:

    Jack: Straight from the Gut
    Winning

    Welch also participates constantly in managing several corporations as part of a private equity group. For four years, he penned a popular column for Businessweek Magazine. He also is featured regularly on various TV programs as a business commentator.

    Background

    Jack Welch was born to a middle class family in Salem, MA, and he attended the University of Massachusetts. He eventually earned his PhD from the University of Illinois in chemical engineering. He first worked as a junior chemical engineer in Pittsfield, MA, earning a starting salary at GE of $10,500 in 1960.

    While he worked at GE, he became dissatisfied with the bureaucracy and poor raises he was receiving. He almost quit his job in chemical engineering in 1961. However, he was urged to stay at the company by executive Reuben Gutoff. He promised Welch that he would help to build the sort of small company feel that Welch wanted.

    Mr. Welch became a VP at GE in 1972, senior VP in 1977, and vice chairman in 1979. He became the firm’s youngest CEO ever in 1981.

    Welch’s belief was that GE should be #1 or #2 in every industry in which it worked, or it should get out of that industry. This strategy was widely emulated across America in many corporations.

    Welch believed in firing the bottom 10% of his managers every year, and he would reward the top 20% with bonuses and stock options. Welch also expanded the stock option program to include almost ⅓ of employees.

    What He Has Been Up To

    Jack Welch is a regular on television and in the media generally, and does not shy away from controversy. He often appears on Fox News and CNBC business programming.

    In early November 2012, Welch took to the airwaves and suggested that the US government’s employment figures are being manipulated for political gain. Mr. Welch said that the job numbers released by the US government that showed a 7.9% unemployment rate were ‘unbelievable,’ and not to be trusted. He also said regarding the economy that ‘every fact says that we don’t have a booming economy.’

    Where He Has Been Quoted

    “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

    “Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it were.”

    - Famous Jack Welch quotes

    Tweet Alert

    Jack Welch is active on Twitter – tweet him at @jack_welch. Some of his interesting tweets in recent weeks include:

    To Learn More

    To find out more about Jack Welch, you should visit the Jack Welch Management Institute. Thank you for all of your outstanding efforts in the world of business, Mr. Welch!