Medical Tuesday Blog
Jack Welch, Legendary CEO of General Electric, Dies at Age 84 GE executive led conglomerate with hard-nosed tactics for 20 years, then saw it dismantled By Thomas Gryta | WSJ | Updated March 2, 2020
Jack Welch led General Electric Co. through two decades of unparalleled growth and transformation, with a brash style that single-handedly remade the conglomerate and changed the landscape of U.S. corporations. He died Sunday at age 84.
Mr. Welch’s success, driven by a hard-nosed strategy to slash less profitable businesses and unproductive employees, made him an international celebrity in the 1980s and drove GE to become the most valuable U.S. company during the 1990s. He groomed a generation of business leaders who went on to run giants such as Boeing Co. and Home Depot Inc.
His retirement in 2001 brought bestselling books and more adoration, but GE’s troubles in the decades after his exit—under his handpicked successor, Jeff Immelt—raised questions about Mr. Welch’s management methods and whether he pushed the conglomerate too hard. . .
Mrs. Welch said she was with her husband when he died from renal failure at their home. A public funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Thursday morning. . .
GE traces its roots back more than a century to Thomas Edison and John Pierpont Morgan, but the modern GE was built by Mr. Welch. He was nicknamed “Neutron Jack” because he eliminated some 100,000 jobs in his early years as chief executive and insisted that managers systematically fire their worst performers. He pressured GE workers around the globe to drive themselves to ever-more-demanding efficiency standards. . .
GE’s profit has plunged in recent years, dragged down by hidden costs in the company’s Capital unit and losses in the core Power business. The troubles have prompted GE to break itself apart, overhaul its leadership and slash its once-generous dividend. GE’s shares fell about 75% in 2017 and 2018, erasing $200 billion of wealth for millions of investors.
In his later years, Mr. Welch witnessed the GE he built get dismantled. The decline of the company pained him, according to friends, and he sometimes said he gave himself an A for his execution of its operations and an F for his choice of successor. . .
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