Aug 30, 2021
When Jeff Immelt graduated from HBS in 1982, he had job offers from Morgan Stanley and Boston Consulting Group. But Immelt had spent his second year at HBS reflecting on his career path, and he decided that he was more interested in being an operator than an investor, accepting a position with a lower salary at GE.
His initial plan was to spend five years or so at GE learning how to manage. Ultimately though, he would go on to spend 35 years at the company, becoming CEO in 2001. He was so dedicated to GE that, at age 50, he got the company's logo tattooed on his leg.
Immelt, now venture partner at New Enterprise Associates and a lecturer at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, recounts his history at GE in his recent book, Hot Seat: What I Learned Leading a Great American Company. And in this first episode of a special two-part Skydeck interview with Immelt, we talk about his rise to CEO, the challenge of enacting change at a massive scale, and what his experience at GE can teach large organizations about overcoming barriers to innovation.