Jack Welch – GE Plastics

Jack Welch was the chair and chief executive of General Electric (GE) from 1981 to 2001. Under his leadership, Welch dramatically increased the market value of GE from $14 billion to $410 billion. He had a reputation as one of the top CEOs of all time. (4.)

“Manager of the Century” in 1999 - Geoff Colvin (Editor, Fortune.com (5.)


Jack Welch was a visionary who utilised technology such as video conferencing from the late 90s into the early 2000s. Today this is common with teams of people worldwide using technology such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex, to name a few.

Those that attended these groundbreaking and pioneering video conferences remarked on the presence that Jack Welch held even on the other side of a screen. GE Plastics team members that recall the meetings with Jack reflect that he used to 'lean in' to the camera, creating an intensity that has stuck with people ever since. Jack's presence and pioneering use of technology enabled him to become one of history's most outstanding business leaders.

Forbes named Jack Welch the seventh-greatest CEO of all time. The magazine also listed him as the fourth-most influential person in the world. During his tenure with General Electric, Jack Welch led GE from a $6 billion company to a $200 billion company. In 2003 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Jack Welch has been inducted into the American Business Hall of Fame, and in 2009 he received an honorary doctorate from UCLA.

In his 2011 book, Winning: The Inside Story of How GE Took Over the World, Jack Welch discussed how he built GE into the world's largest corporation and how he managed the company through difficult times. Welch retired from GE in 2001 and was succeeded by Dennis Muilenburg.

Jack Welch's Early Life

Jack Welch was born in Peabody, Massachusetts, on November 19, 1935. Welch's father, John Francis Welch, Sr, was an insurance salesman and his mother, Grace (Andrews) Welch, was a homemaker. After attending Salem High School in Peabody, Massachusetts. Welch attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studied chemical engineering and then graduated from the University of Illinois in 1960 with a master's and a PhD in chemical engineering.

Welch's Career at GE

After completing his MBA at Stanford, Jack Welch joined General Electric (GE) in 1960; by 1968, Jack became the vice president and head of GE's plastics division, a $26 million operation for GE at the time. Welch oversaw production and marketing for the GE-developed plastics materials Lexan and Noryl. In 1977, Welch was named senior vice president and head of the Consumer Products and Services Division, a position he held until 1979, when he became the vice chairman of GE. In 1981, Jack Welch became GE's youngest chairman and CEO, succeeding Reginald H. Jones. By 1982, Jack Welch had dismantled much of the earlier management put together by Jones with aggressive simplification and consolidation. One of his primary leadership directives was that GE had to be No. 1 or No. 2 in the industries it participated in. (1.)

"Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others." - Jack Welch (1981 - 2001). (2.)

Jack Welch's 4 Principles from the book "Winning"

Jack Welch's book, "Winning", provides a framework of qualities required for success as a business leader in an enterprise. These qualities include a strong mission and concrete values, the absolute necessity of candour, the power of differentiation, and giving value to each individual, respecting their voice and dignity.

Welch explains the importance of a strong mission and values by saying that it provides individuals in the company with drive and purpose, thus significantly improving their capacity for meaningful and thoughtful work (Welch 14). He also stated, "while your company may not collapse due to lack of mission and aligned values, it will not reach its potential". In visionary companies like Google and Apple, the company's vision is known and followed by every employee.

Jack Welch explains the absolute necessity of candour in connection to team play – a lack of candour means a lack of honesty, and a lack of honesty breaks up the team (Welch 26). (3.)


  1. Jack Welch. (2022, December 2). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Welch
  2. Jack Welch Quotes. (2022, December 7). In Good Reads. https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/3770.Jack_Welch
  3. Jack Welch's 4 Principles in "Winning" (2022, June 3). In Study Corgi. https://studycorgi.com/jack-welchs-4-principles-in-winning/
  4. Who Was Jack Welch? (2021, January 24). In Investopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Sigma
  5. For a time, Jack Welch was the most valuable CEO on earth (2020, March 3). In Fortune. https://fortune.com/2020/03/02/jack-welch-ge-ceo-death/