(Reuters) - Jack Welch, the legendary CEO who led General Electric Co GE.N for two decades to create the most valuable public company in the United States, died at the age of 84.
Welch, known as “Neutron Jack” for his aggressive cost-saving methods, faced criticism particularly after he retired from GE for his cavalier attitude about offshoring jobs and shutting down U.S. plants.
Here are some key quotes on Welch’s legacy:
DONALD TRUMP, president of the United States
“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!”
LAWRENCE CULP, CEO of GE
“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. Jack was a strong and constant influence throughout my career despite never having worked directly for him.”
“When I last saw him, what I remember most vividly was when he asked me, ‘So how exactly are you running the company?’ Jack was still in it – committed to GE’s success. And to have Jack Welch ask me how I am running GE is pretty humbling.”
JAMIE DIMON, CEO of JPMorgan Chase
“Jack was an exceptional man and an outstanding leader who had such enormous impact on the role of business in our country.”
“With indefatigable spirit and sound judgment, he led GE through good times and difficult times. And all the while, he stood tall and always did the right thing for his company and his country.”
“Personally, I always admired him as a mentor, as a friend, and even as a fatherly figure. He really set the standard as a CEO, not just in his performance running the company and as a legendary leader, but in his deep integrity, big heart and strategic vision.”
DAVID COTE, executive chairman of Vertiv Holdings Co and former Honeywell International Inc CEO
“He was instrumental in the advancement of my career. There’s a story about me he included in his book. He called me up into his office. I was a lower mid-level finance employee, and he let me have it in the meeting for something the finance organization had done. He was everything everyone said about him in terms of how angry he could get. I walked out of there, calling my wife saying ‘I think I’ve been fired.’ Two months later, I had worked on the RCA deal. (Then) he had me interviewing three to four levels higher than where I was. That was the kind of career accelerant he was.”
“His constant focus on performance and recognizing that you have to deliver. It’s something that very much carried over into Honeywell. Everyone can talk about it, few can do it, and he did it.”
TOM NEFF, chairman of executive recruiting firm Spencer Stuart U.S.
“(GE) was a hunting ground. I recruited, maybe five or six executives with a GE background who became CEOs for major companies. (GE) was looked at as the preferred academy company for other businesses because of his leadership, his teaching approach to talent. You could screw up, but you needed performance over time. He was a risk taker, and he expected other executives to take risks.”
STEVE MILLER, chairman of Purdue Pharma and former CEO of Delphi Corp
“He had the skill of identifying talent, and nurturing talent, and developing it, and those people have become business leaders elsewhere. The best single day example was the day Jeff Immelt was announced to succeed Jack Welch. The other three internal contenders were very strong, and instantly got other jobs.”
“There are some leaders who destroy anyone who challenges their authority, (who say) you have to keep me on the job, there is no one else here who can do it. Jack was just the opposite, he developed incredibly strong talent around him. That’s why GE for a long time was the best company around. For a very long time it was very hard to pry anyone away from GE.”
TIM HUBBARD, assistant professor of management at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business
“His aggressive, in-your-face style and edict to be number one or two in every major sector was embraced by both management consultants and business school faculty. Jack’s aggressive style was matched by his growth-by-acquisition strategy which allowed GE to produce consistent double-digit growth in earnings per share. And, while his performance was tremendous, his exit was followed by arguably poor performance of future GE CEOs. The failure of subsequent CEOs underscores how important Welch’s leadership was to GE.”
THOMAS COOKE, professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business
“When the book about business leaders in this century is written, Jack Welch will be near the very top. What he did as the leader of GE was remarkable.”
“It’s very difficult to predict how things would have worked out if Jack stayed on deck, but certainly what happened to General Electric after he left is not a very positive story”
Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru and Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Lisa Shumaker
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