Past Leaders

Reginald H. Jones

Chairman & CEO 1972-1981

"What will be expected of managers in the future? Intellectual breadth, strategic capability, social sensitivity, political sophistication, world-mindedness, and above all, a capacity to keep their poise amid the cross-currents of change."

If anyone could have served as a model for this specification for the manager of the future, it is its author, Reginald H. Jones.

Mr. Jones' entire business career was with General Electric. He joined the company's Business Training Course in 1939. Three years later, he began an eight-year tour as a traveling auditor, an assignment that took him to nearly every plant in the company. Then he moved into general management, serving as manager of various company businesses in consumer, utility, industrial, construction and distribution fields. In 1968, he became the company's chief financial officer, and was elected senior vice-president two years later.

In 1972 he became president, then chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric. There he brought fresh vitality and new strategic direction to one of the most diversified enterprises in the world. Most of that diversification came from strong internal growth fostered by research and development, strategic planning and the introduction of the sector structure which, "prepared the organization and the people to meet General Electric's long-range growth opportunities in the decade ahead."

Under Jones' administration, the company's sales more than doubled ($10 billion to $22 billion) and earnings grew even faster ($572 million to $1.4 billion). A major thrust was into international markets. As Chairman of the President's Export Council, Mr. Jones became an eloquent voice for the expansion of world trade and the restoration of U.S. competitiveness.

But Mr. Jones is best known to the public for his role in changing the relationship between business and government. As Chairman of the Business Council and Co-Chairman of The Business Roundtable, he was a leader in the movement to develop a constructive business-government dialogue. Three Presidents and their Cabinets chose to call on him frequently for sophisticated counsel on economic policy. His most significant achievement in the policy arena was recognition in Washington of the nation's capital formation problem, and his important role as spokesman on the issues of tax policy, trade, monetary reform, unemployment, and human rights.

His work as a thoughtful and public-spirited counselor on public policy won him broad acceptance in both parties - a credibility most unusual for a leading business executive. U.S. News and World Report, in its 1979 and 1980 surveys of "Who Runs America," reported that his peers regarded Jones as the most influential person in business. Mr. Jones used this well-earned influence to advance fresh ideas for the solution of economic and social problems of his time.