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GE’s Jeff Immelt: The Voyage from MBA to CEO

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Jeff Immelt graduated from Harvard MBA and had been recruited to GE on 1982. Immelt greatly impressed Dennis Dammerman, the executive overseeing GE’s MBA recruitment. Then, Immelt entered on a commercial leadership track that included real work assignments in different GE businesses.

After completing the training program, Immelt become regional sales manager for GE Plastic in Dallas and responsible for 15 direct reports.

In 1987, Immelt was tapped to attend the Executive Development Course (EDC) at Crotonville as the youngest in his class. EDC was considered as a gateway to become a company office.

In 1989, the opportunity arose in Appliances. He was appointed as VP of Consumer Service for GE Appliances. It was his “sink or swim” test in a tough situation.

With success in GE Appliances, Jeff Immelt was asked to run the entire marketing and product management operations, a position reporting directly to Gary Rogers, the new CEO of GE Appliances. He thinks highly of Immelt with some detailed feedbacks. Immelt was lauded for exceptional energy and results but also counseled to listen better, to empower his subordinates and to channel his appetite for action in order to bring his organization along with him. After 3 years, he moved back to Plastics.

In 1992, Immelt took over his boss’s job as head of Plastics Americas, with complete responsibility for roughly half of the Plastics business – and a direct report to Rogers as he was also move to Plastics. The competition is very fierce in plastics from Dow – Dupont and Bayer. At such hard time, Immelt performance, how he respond, was monitored by Jack Welch – GE CEO.

In 1997, Jeff Immelt was appointed to run GE Medical Systems (GEMS). At that time, GEMS management was focusing on cost cutting in response to reduction in health care reimbursement in the early 1990s. Deciding to emphasize on growth, he set about expanding into new businesses and making GEMS a more global company. While developing a new business, he also developed his management network and spotted Greg Lucier. Over the next 3 years, Lucier more than doubled the sales of GEMS’ new IT business to $1.8 billion. In 4 years under Immelt’s leadership GEMS’ sales doubled to $8.4 billion while Net Income increased from $400 million in 1997 to $890 million in 2001.

He was selected by GE’s Board of Directors in 2000 to replace Jack Welch following his retirement as part of Welch succession plan. As a CEO, Jeff Immelt‘s priority:

1. Technological leadership – as core driver of the company’s future growth

2. Service acceleration

3. Commercial excellence – build enduring relationships with customers and creating a world class commercials culture

4. Globalization – expanding GE’s sourcing and marketing worldwide

5. Growth platform – create major new platforms for future growth.

GE Talent Machine: Immelt’s Next Steps

• External recruitment for senior position

• Diversity in work force

• “People oriented” approach

• “innovative Break-through” program

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