17 Apr 2017
Jeff Immelt Wants a Radical Transformation of GERe: Bob Kraft (MBA 1965); Steve Pagliuca (MBA 1982); Pat Petitti (MBA 2014); Rob Biederman (MBA 2014); Benson ShapiroTopics:
Photo by Keith Bedford/Boston Globe Staff
Jeff Immelt (MBA 1982) wants to change just about everything at GE, from its image as a slow-moving corporate behemoth, to the focus of its core businesses, to the location of its corporate offices.
In May, the company that made the first lightbulb, as well as refrigerators, microwave ovens, and jet engines, and for years made its home in leafy Connecticut will officially open its new corporate headquarters in downtown Boston, smack in the middle of the city’s burgeoning innovation district. According to the Boston Globe, after 16 years as CEO, Immelt “is close to completing a corporate transformation that is as radical as it is methodical, as essential to the company’s survival as Steve Jobs’s iPhone was to Apple’s.”
In overseeing the company’s transition to a lean operation more akin to a tech innovator, Immelt has systematically been selling off significant segments of the company — plastics, appliances, NBC, much of its finance operation, and soon, it’s rumored, even the lighting division. The reason for this, according to Immelt, is what’s drawn him to Boston—the city’s leadership position in technology, medicine, and life sciences, which is where he wants to take GE. “That just kind of lets you see why being here matters,” he told the Globe.
Another piece in the puzzle of why Immelt wants to be in Boston brings him back to his roots at HBS, as he has developed strong relationships with the School, including Professor Emeritus Ben Shapiro, who serves as an advisor, and with fellow alumni, including Robert Kraft (MBA 1965), owner of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots; classmate Stephen Pagliuca (MBA 1982), chairman of Bain Capital; and more recent graduates, such as the cofounders of the startup Catalant (formerly Hourly Nerd) Patrick Petitti and Rob Biederman, both (MBA 2014).
“He is wildly innovative, entrepreneurial, and willing to try to new things,” Petitti told the Globe. “You wouldn’t expect that to be the case.”
Class of MBA 1982, Section A