They didn’t know it when they gathered to see him speak, but some 200 innovation-focussed leaders at GE’s Decoding Industry event in Sydney in April were witnessing Jeff Immelt’s ultimate star turn in Australia as GE’s global CEO and chairman.
On June 12, GE announced that Immelt will pass the boss baton to John Flannery, in the culmination of a carefully planned succession strategy. Immelt’s last day as CEO is July 31, and he will retire from his role as chairman of the company on December 31, with long-time GE executive Flannery taking both roles.
While Decoding Industry guests ate lunch, Immelt took to the stage for a lively conversation with MC Adam Spencer.
When the former broadcaster joked that he and Immelt are “both maths nerds”, the GE leader seized the opportunity for a shout out for STEM study, especially the M component. “I got a math and physics degree and then an MBA,” he told Spencer and the Decoding Industry audience. “I use my math degree every day … the things I learned in business school, the people around me do; the things I learned getting a math degree, I still use every day … Study math, math is in!”
GE has gathered all nine of the Decoding Industry speakers’ presentations for its new podcast series.
“I’ve done this job for 15 years,” Immelt said. “We’ve really done five things: we’ve refocused the portfolio, we’ve reinvested in technology, we’ve massively globalised the company, we’ve transformed to be a more digitised company and we’ve simplified the way we run the place.” Listen in to the podcast for almost an hour of vintage Immelt wisdom (as well as a fun story about the hit TV series 30 Rock):