Full Name: John Francis Welch Jr.
Profession: Businessman and CEO of GE
Why Famous: Welch was Irish American and Catholic, as a businessman he was best known as the CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001. His severance package upon retirement is infamous for being the largest of its kind at $417 million.
Through his tenure at GE, Welch made notable changes and increased the company's valuation from $12 billion (1981) to $410 billion (2001). He begun his career at the bottom of GE, as a junior chemical engineer in Massachusetts. From there, he ascended the ranks—once almost leaving due to the bureaucratic clog, another time almost being fired after an accidental explosion.
Welch has been criticized on environmental grounds, as during his time as CEO, GE often fought the Environmental Protection Agency. He has also received criticism for the subsequent decline of GE's market value, which halved under his hand-picked successor.
- 1999-11-22 Fortune Magazine names General Electric CEO Jack Welch 'Manager of the Century"