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The success story of Jack Welch

August 5, 2008

"I've learned that mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success." -- Jack Welch

He is one of the world's most admired and influential business leaders. A business strategist with a great vision, his business philosophy is a lesson for businesses across the globe. Meet Jack Welch who served as chairman and CEO of General Electric (GE) from 1981-2001. He transformed an ailing organization into one of the world's best companies.

Jack Welch was born in 1935. He received his BS degree in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts in 1957 and his MS and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1960.

1960 was a turning point in Welch's career. He joined General Electric as a chemical engineer in its 'plastics' division at a salary of $10,500 annually. He was elected the company's youngest vice president in 1972 and was named vice chairman in 1979. In April 1981, he became the 8th chairman and chief executive officer of GE.

Under his leadership, GE converted every opportunity into a business success. He gave managers a free hand in taking the right decisions which lead to faster growth and higher profits. With Welch at the helm, the company streamlined operations, acquired new businesses and made sure that every business under the GE family was among the best.

In 1980, the year before Welch became CEO, GE recorded revenues of roughly $26.8 billion. In 2000, the year before he left, the revenues stood at $130 billion. The company went from a market value of $14 billion to one of more than $410 billion at the time of his retirement, making it the most valuable and largest company in the world.

Image: Former General Electric chairman Jack Welch at the World Business Forum in Frankfurt, Germany. | Photograph: Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty Images

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