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In at the moment’s episode, I sit down with world-renowned former GE CEO Jeff Immelt.
Fresh off the discharge of his e-book, “Hot Seat: What I Learned Leading a Great American Company,” Jeff got here on to debate his profession and legacy, in addition to quite a few matters starting from China/US Relations to disaster management and new fintech traits.
Jeff joined GE after graduating from Harvard Business School and labored there for the following 35 (with 16 as CEO). Following the enduring tenure of Jack Welch, Jeff had a rocky street as CEO, shedding billions in market cap and weathering quite a few crises. Jeff’s tenure has been a subject of relentless debate and criticism from teachers, execs, pundits, and extra over the past decade, as GE’s market cap suffered and GE itself went by means of critical transformation.
Jeff has determined to share the within story — the extreme negotiations, late nights, world-changing choices, and international crises— in his e-book, with a concentrate on main by means of disaster. As he says,
“It’s a complicated story, and I didn’t want to seem defensive. I wanted to let the reader be the judge…I thought it was important for people to see the totality.”
We talk about his tenure in at the moment’s episode, however I extremely suggest you choose up Hot Seat as your summer time learn. Any business-minded individual will get pleasure from his tales about placing collectively offers in days, navigating 9/11, negotiating with Obama and Putin, and extra. Jeff is uncooked, candid, and susceptible all through, detailing the emotional curler coaster of 16 years as a CEO.
In at the moment’s episode, we cowl:
His journey to the highest of GE
“I went back to HBS…I worked that summer at BCG and had a great experience in consulting. But I found myself identifying more with the client than with my peers and decided to go seek a path in general management. I went to work for GE, and I thought I’d stay maybe five years. But it ended up being 35! I did the classic, multiple businesses, multiple functions, multiple regions, and, you open your eyes one day, 20 years later, and you’re being considered for CEO!”
When he first realized he had the potential to turn into an exec
“When I was 32 years old…I worked on the biggest product recall in the history of GE. We had 3.3 million compressors that needed to be replaced in refrigerators. And I was in charge of the appliance service business! It landed me in the GE board room once a month for 18 months, where I had to deal not just with Jack Welch, my very famous predecessor, but with all of his staff. What I learned about myself at that moment in time, which is a really important thing for people like you, is that I could take a punch. That I could hold my own with maybe the toughest boss in the world. That gives you a sense of confidence, not that you can go on and be a CEO, but that you can go on and do bigger and better things. And I think that’s, that’s really important early in your career.”
Jeff dives into this saga in his e-book, detailing the nationwide recall and the way he even rolled up his sleeves himself and helped repair fridges in individuals’s houses!
The one factor Jack Welch did higher than anybody
“I’ve never seen anybody before or after who could scale better than Jack. And I’ve met presidents, I’ve met generals, I’ve met all kinds of people. He could create an aura about himself. He knew how to hold people accountable. He could communicate to one person and to 300,000 people at the same time…He knew how to create internal teams that weren’t obvious to other people. And when I work with founders today, a lot of his principles work on 100 person companies trying to be 1,000 person companies, and they also work for somebody running a 100,000 person company that wants it to be more nimble.”
Why now was the suitable time to publish “Hot Seat” and what he discovered
“I felt like the context around the company had gone missing in the way it had been covered over the last three or four years. It’s not so much about me or protecting any of my feelings or things like that. But that context also impacted 1,000’s of people who did great work, many of whom were far superior to their competitors, and served their customers. And so I felt like their story had to be told…
I felt like the middle of COVID wouldn’t be a bad time to release the book, because it doesn’t matter where you are in business, you’re going through a lousy time right now. I thought it might be helpful to read about somebody else’s lousy times and how they dealt with it.”
His ideas on his legacy
“Man, it’s a great question. I’m not sure I can really answer that question yet. You know, it’s going to be complicated no matter what. I have great relationships with the people I worked with. I love the company. And I really worked my ass off every day to help the company do better. But all that being said, I know there are people that hold me responsible, and I wear that to the day I die. It’s an extremely complicated thing that I don’t think is done yet…I think about it every day.”
His second day of labor…September 11, 2001
“We were in the aviation industry, the media business, the insurance business, and more! So we were going through what employees were affected, and how many people died. Were our employees even safe? What would happen to our aviation business?
And, you know, what it did for me was, it made me have to make decisions on the very first day about things I didn’t know really about. We had to loan billions of dollars to airlines around the world, and they were financial instruments I didn’t really even understand. There were meetings at 10pm and we would have to make decisions by 6am, the next morning, and I would look to my vice chairman and say, okay, explain to me what this is, and why would this airline go bankrupt? And how much money would keep them afloat? And then the answer had to be yes or no!”
Jeff has wonderful passages in his e-book on the weeks after 9/11, together with GE’s choices to avoid wasting sure airways on the expense of their very own success.
China / US Relations and his recommendation for President Biden
“Ryan, one of my biggest fears today is that people like you would be afraid to do business in China. And that you feel like you can live your business career with no interface with China. That’s just dead wrong!”
“The issue politically is that we don’t have relationships with leaders around the world. We don’t really have any contextual relationship in China, or even in the Middle East…So my advice to President Biden is he should meet be meeting personally, with President Xi four times a year. There’s no relationship that shapes humankind more than the relationship between China and the US. He shouldn’t delegate that to anybody. He should be personally engaged. In the middle of the Cold War, President Reagan met with his counterparts in Russia two or three times a year, and we were at war!
“China’s not going to go away. They’re a big force. We don’t understand them. We have no relationships with them. And that’s something that has to be fixed.”
Fintech traits he’s following & recommendation for financial institution CEOs
“If I put on the hat of my friend, James Gorman or Jamie Dimon or David Solomon, you need to be investing in as many of those platforms as you can. You need to be transitioning your own consumers and your own commercial customers into digital technologies that lower costs before you get them stolen.
You have incredible incumbency, staying power, and brand. But your old business model ain’t lasting two minutes long, right? So you’ve got to learn which margins to give up on first, and you’ve got to be recruiting like mad in the digital space. I wish I had partnered a digital startup company with GE Digital because we didn’t have currency. It was hard to build the culture. I thought Visa trying to acquire Plaid was the attempt by the company to get some DNA inside that they could use to really grow and leverage and be able to pivot.”
We additionally cowl his new position as a Venture Partner at NEA, an incredible rapid-fire spherical overlaying his exec dream staff, his ideas on 30 Rock, finest enterprise books, why he has a tattoo of the GE brand, and extra!
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Jeff Immelt is a Venture Partner at New Enterprise Associates (NEA), a world enterprise capital and personal fairness agency. He is the creator of HOT SEAT, a memoir of management in occasions of disaster.
Prior to becoming a member of NEA in 2018, Jeff was the ninth Chairman of GE and served as CEO for 16 years. He has been named one of many “World’s Best CEOs” thrice by Barron’s. During his tenure as CEO, GE was named “America’s Most Admired Company” by Fortune journal and considered one of “The World’s Most Respected Companies” in polls by Barron’s and the Financial Times. He has acquired fifteen honorary levels and quite a few awards for enterprise management and chaired the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness below the Obama administration.
Jeff has a B.A. diploma in utilized arithmetic from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from Harvard University. He is a member of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
*Some quotes have been flippantly edited for readability or conciseness.
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Ryan Zauk is an MBA Candidate at The Wharton School, the place he runs the Wharton FinTech Podcast. He presently works with the US International Development Finance Corp taking a look at expertise influence investments in creating markets. He has a ardour for music, media, and all issues FinTech.
You can attain him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.