Jack Welch was a successful Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of General Electric Co. (GE) for twenty years (1981 – 2001). He was admired and feared for the “new vision” that was implemented at GE. Jacks talented strategies were based on how he saw the hierarchy layers of management, how he analyzed the 42 strategic business units, and how he implemented the culture of GE to have the feel and the passion that he had been striving for. These strategies received a lot of positive and negative attention and as a result the company’s value increased by 4,000% during his tenure at GE.
Jack Welch was born John Francis Welch, Jr. on November 19, 1935. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts in 1957. Then he went on to earn a M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1960. He was introduced to Carolyn Osburn through a mutual friend, and then approximately six months later they were engaged. By November, 1959 they married two days after Welch’s 24th birthday.
In 1960, Dr. Dan Fox offered Welch a chemical engineering position to work on a new project on a new thermoplastic called polyphenylene oxide (PPO) at GE. PPO was described to withstand high temperatures, which could replace hot water copper piping and stainless-steel medical instruments. Welch realized after his first year at GE that he disliked GE’s bureaucracy, which nearly drove him to leave based on the standard predetermined $1,000 raise he received in 1961.
He was fed up and walked up to his boss Burt Coplan and quit. Coplan’s boss, Reuben Gutoff (Reg) called Welch and offered to meet for dinner. Gutoff took Carolyn and Jack out for dinner and promised a bigger raise, more responsibility, and would keep the bureaucracy out of his way. In addition, Gutoff added another $2,000 raise on top of the $1,000 raise Coplan already given him, which showed Welch he was serious about his promise.
In 1972, Jack was named the company’s youngest Vice President then was elected Vice Chairman in 1979, then was elected the eighth chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 1981. Jack held this position until he retired in 2001. During his twenty year term as CEO Jacks reputation
In 1999, Forbes magazine named him “Manager of the Century” and the Financial Times named him one of the three most admired business leaders in the world today (General Electric Company). During Jacks twenty year tenure at GE he was able to step outside of the box and change the way the game was played. (Business Pundit, 2008).
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