Jack flash

04-25-05_image-1_thumb.jpgThe Graduate School of Business’s 53rd annual management conference was a winner: the April 22 event attracted 1,000 alumni and other businesspeople, many of them drawn by a lunchtime conversation with Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric and author (with wife Suzy Welch) of the current bestseller Winning.

As attendees lunched in the Fairmont Hotel’s Imperial Ballroom, GSB Dean Edward A. Snyder, AM’78, PhD’84, pressed Welch for highlights: “Jack, your book has four parts and 20 chapters. We’ve got some people here who don’t have much time—what should they read?”

“It depends on what you need,” Jack shot back. For readers in crisis mode he recommended the chapter on crisis management: “Get out of the denial phase fast.” Readers in a merger situation should check out the mergers and acquisitions chapter—and remember that “[A]fter a merger, the brilliant resisters are dead.” He drew laughter with another recommendation: “And there’s a great chapter about how to work for a lousy boss.”

Lousy bosses, in Welch’s view, are those who “lack candor,” who “think it’s unkind to tell employees what they’re doing wrong,” and who pay more attention to budgets than dreams. In his straight-from-the-gut style, Welch dissed both corporate loyalty (“I do not find loyalty to be a great corporate virtue—only winning companies count”) and CFOs (“Why people want to hang around with finance grunts is beyond my imagination”).

Conversation finished, guests headed to the Gleacher Center for an afternoon of panel sessions, from GSB professor Marvin Zonis discussing “Déjà Vu All Over Again: Foreign Policy Challenges in the Second Bush Term” to “Where is Consumer-Driven Health Care Going?”—a panel sponsored by the Chicago GSB Public Policy Roundtable Alumni Group.



GSB Dean Ted Snyder interviews former GE CEO Jack Welch.
Photo by Dan Dry.

April 25, 2005