Longtime CEO of General Electric Jack Welch dies at age 84

Welch was chairman and CEO of GE for two decades from 1981 to 2001.

Jack Welch, the longtime leader of General Electric, died Monday at the age of 84, the company confirmed.

“Today is a sad day for the entire GE family. Jack was larger than life and the heart of GE for half a century,” GE’s current chairman and CEO Larry Culp said in a statement. “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.”

“He will be deeply missed by me and the entire GE team. And we’ll continue to honor his legacy by doing exactly what Jack would want us to do: win,” the statement added. “We extend our thoughts and sympathies to Suzy and his family during this time.”

Welch was chairman and CEO of GE from 1981 to 2001. In that time, the tycoon increased the market value of the company from roughly $14 billion to more than $410 billion.

Under his leadership, GE became the most valuable and largest company in the world by market cap. In 1999, Fortune magazine named him “Manager of the Century.”

“As CEO of GE, Mr. Welch’s management skills became almost legendary,” the GE’s website stated. “He had little time for bureaucracy and archaic business ways. Managers were given free reign as long as they followed the GE ethic of constant change and striving to do better. He ran GE like a small dynamic business able to change as opportunities arose or when a business became unprofitable.”

Welch initially joined GE as a chemical engineer in 1960 and became the company’s youngest vice president in 1972.

In his statement Monday, Culp shared his last memory with Welch.

“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,” Culp said. “And to have Jack Welch ask me how I am running GE is pretty humbling.”

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