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Leadership Challenge - Jack Welch Question & Answers

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Welch Questions

  1. Who is Jack Welch and when did he serve as CEO of GE?

Answer: Jack Welch is a retired American business executive, author and chemical engineer.  He became the CEO of GE in 1980 and served in that capacity till 2001. During his tenure at GE, the company's value rose considerably to about 4,000%. Welch became the youngest CEO in GE’s history when he took over in 1982. He was able to transform GE into the world’s most competitive enterprise. According to Welch, his objective was to “put a small-company spirit in a big company body, to build and organization out of an old-line industrial company that would be more high-spirited, more adaptable, and more agile than companies that are one-fiftieth our size.” (Welch and Byrne 2001)

  1. Who is John A. Byrne?

Answer: John A. Byrne is a co-author of ‘Straight from the Gut’ with Jack Welch.

  1. What was Welch’s academic preparation for his highly successful career in business?

Answer: Jack Welch gives a lot of credit to his mother Grace Welch for his leadership abilities. To him, “if I have any leadership style, a way of getting the best out of people, I owe it to her.” (4) In terms of academics, Jack went to Salem High School where he mostly engaged in sport activities. From there he went to the University of Massachusetts to study chemical engineering where he graduated as one of the top two students. He then proceeded to University of Illinois for his master’s degree and PhD.

  1. What was Welch’s experience with mentors during his rise in GE?


  1. Why did Jack Welch’s father encourage him to learn and play golf?

Answer: Because his dad could always hear big shots talking about that game. He assumed it was a game for big men.

  1. Welch writes stories about his mother’s influence in his development.  One relates to a high     school hockey game.  Explain what happened.

Answer: Jack’s team had lost a seventh consecutive game after putting in some much effort to win especially the last match. After being much disappointed in the loss, Jack flung his hockey stick across the ice of the arena and headed to the locker room. His mother was disappointed in this gesture and followed him to the locker room where she told him that “if you don’t know how to lose, you’ll never know how to win. If you don’t know this, you shouldn’t be playing.” Jack was motivated and inspired by this act and always remembered it in his life of leadership.



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