Academic Master


The History of Executive Leadership at General Electric

Charles Coffin

Answer 1:

          Charles Coffin had managed C.A Coffin and Company for 10 years and had widespread recognition for his managerial abilities. When he joined Thomas-Houston, Coffin introduced incorporation of the subsidiary United Electric Securities Company. He used this company to attract investment by accommodating the securities of the fledgling utilities as payment for its electric equipment (Shekshnia, et al. 2018).

Answer 2:

In 1893, crises in railroad caused a stock market crash and triggered a worldwide financial crises affecting the GE bonds and stocks value.

Answer 3:

          The key opportunity available was electricity as a new and unproven technology. Coffin used it in an innovative way to attract investors by United Electric Securities and later expand it by merging both companies to form General Electric.

Answer 4:

          Coffin was an experienced professional executive and he understood the need of innovation for the sustainability of the company especially after the financial crisis of 1893. In 1895, the company introduced steam turbine production, and x-ray equipment.

John F. Welch, JR

Answer 1:

John Welch was a junior engineer, and he inherited a heavy company from “Reg” Jones, comprising of 350 businesses.

Answer 2:

          When he took charge as a CEO, he sold 117 businesses, signifying 20 % of company’s assists. These businesses would serve as a barrier to competitors but he sold them and company faced an aggressive downsizing.

Answer 3: 

          This extreme downsizing earned him a cost saving significant workforce rationalization.

Answer 4:

          He implemented Six Sigma quality program (Laureani, & Antony, 2018) and expand the business by making 993 acquisitions worth over $130 billion. This dramatically increased the balance sheet of the company, making it the largest non-bank financial organization in the world.

Jeffry Immelt

Answer 1:

          Jeffry Immelt joined the company in 1982 after the completion of MBA from Harvard.

Answer 2:

          The key challenge was to maintain the position of the company as a largest non-bank financial corporation.

Answer 3:

The company was making exceptional progress and to sustain its success, Jeffry focused on its industrial roots. He worked on acquiring industrial companies, divesting non-core businesses, increase spending on R&D activities, and prioritizing globalization.

Answer 4:

          He strengthened GE’s industrial position through targeted acquisitions such as wind turbine manufactures, and corporations specializing in oil and gas production.


Laureani, A., & Antony, J. (2018). Leadership–a critical success factor for the effective implementation of Lean Six Sigma. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence29(5-6), 502-523.

Shekshnia, S., Kravchenko, K., & Williams, E. (2018). Class 4: Experience—Three Dilemmas for Would-Be CEOs. In CEO School (pp. 37-52). Palgrave Pivot, Singapore.



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