The former chief executive and chairman of General Electric (GE) Jack Welch died at the age of 84 on March 1 due to renal failure.
Welch, the son of a railroad engineer, grew up to become the head of the American multinational conglomerate from 1981 to 2001. He was named the manager of the century notably for transforming GE into one of the world’s largest companies.
Welch was nicknamed Neutron Jack due to his cost-cutting strategy by slashing tens of thousands of jobs while he was in charge of GE.
According to his 2001 book, “Jack: Straight From the Gut,” he decreased GE’s workforce from 411,000 to 299,000 employees in the first five years of taking over GE. Welch invented a performance management practice called the “vitality curve,” also known as “rank and yank”, where employees’ performances were reviewed against that of their peers and the bottom 10% would then be eliminated.
Under Welch’s tenure as GE CEO, company revenues increased fivefold to US$130 billion in 2000 from US$26.8 billion in 1980.
Welch expanded GE’s ventures into financial services and consulting, medical equipment and jet services in his first seven years of being head of the company. Under his leadership, GE Bank was founded and GE acquired brokerage firm Kidder Peabody, turning GE into a financial superpower.
United States President Donald Trump expressed his condolences on Twitter, adding that he considered Welch a longtime friend and supporter. “Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of GE, a business legend, has died. There was no corporate leader like “neutron” Jack. He was my friend and supporter. We made wonderful deals together. He will never be forgotten. My warmest sympathies to his wonderful wife & family!” Trump tweeted on March 2.
The company’s current chairman and CEO Larry Culp also conveyed his condolences. “Today is a sad day for the entire GE family. Jack was larger than life and the heart of GE for half a century. He reshaped the face of our company and the business world,” Culp said.