Jack Welch
1935 - 2020

Former CEO of General Electric, who effected one of the great company transformations of the 20th century. 


Ranked #42 in 2001. 


Named Manager of the Century by Fortune Magazine. 


GE named the “world’s most respected company” for the third straight year by the Financial Times, in 2001. 


Welch’s management ideas were an about-turn from the existing management styles of the 1970s. To create a more entrepreneurial corporate culture he attacked bureaucracy, slashed the workforce, and made sweeping cuts to payroll. Recognising the rise of Japan Inc and the Asian tigers, he transformed GE from an appliance and lightbulb manufacturer to a multi-faceted business incorporating financial services, aircraft engines, medical systems, engineering plastics, and NBC television.

While Welch’s management model may not be the most appropriate for the 21st century – his cut-throat, shareholder-first approach earned him the moniker “Neutron Jack” – some of his principles remain pertinent to business management today, such as getting “people decisions” right, speaking with candour, and being constantly curious.


Son of a railroad conductor and a homemaker, Welch gained his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He joined GE in 1960 as an engineer and by 1968 was managing its plastics unit. He became GE’s youngest ever CEO at the age of 45. During his tenure at the head of GE, the company’s market value increased from $14 billion to $410 billion. After retiring in 2001, Welch became an adviser for private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, and chief executive in IAC, Barry Diller. He also co-wrote a column for BusinessWeek with his wife, Suzy Welch, and taught at MIT Sloan School of Management.


Straight from the Gut: What We’ve Learned Leading a Great Company and Great People (Headline, 2001); Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book (with Suzy Welch, HarperCollins, 2005); The Real Life MBA: The No-Nonsense Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and Growing your Career (with Suzy Welch, Harper Thorsons, 2015).


Media picks


“The business superstar of his time”

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50

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