For 16 years, Jeff Immelt ran General Electric, one of the largest corporations in the world. As CEO, Immelt was given the nearly impossible task of steering GE into the modern world. During his tenure, Immelt spearheaded several innovative transformations that transitioned the company from a classic conglomerate that did everything to one that focused on its core industrial businesses. His overhaul of GE also included selling off slower-growth, low-tech, and nonindustrial businesses while doubling GE’s investment in R&D. Prior to his CEO role, Immelt held several global leadership positions after coming to GE in 1982, including roles in GE's Plastics, Appliances, and Healthcare businesses. Immelt has also served in the public sector, namely as the chair of President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The high-powered executive received an MBA from Harvard University and has been named one of the “World’s Best CEOs” three times by Barron’s. Furthermore, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was previously named to TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the world.
Immelt's skill in the boardroom can be traced back to his days as a student at Dartmouth College, where he was known by fellow students as a natural leader. At six feet, four inches tall, Immelt was also a natural on the football field, playing offensive tackle for the Dartmouth squad. Also serving as president of his fraternity, Phi Delta Alpha, Immelt was far from being a knuckle-dragging lout. In 1978, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in applied mathematics and economics. Additionally, his education continued during summers spent away from Dartmouth, as Immelt used the vacation months to work at the Ford Motor assembly plant in Cincinnati, where he "learned a lot about how to communicate to people, what makes them respond."
A proud supporter of the Dartmouth community, Immelt has always made a point of giving back to his alma mater. From 2008 to 2016, he was a Charter Trustee for the University; he has also served Dartmouth on its Alumni Council and as a class officer. His expertise in business makes him a much sought-after speaker, and several times the 1978 grad has trekked back to his stomping grounds for University events. In 2004, he delivered the Commencement address, and in 2011, he took part in Dartmouth's public summer lecture series, "Leading Voices in Politics and Policy." Later that same year, graduating MBA students at Dartmouth received an early graduation gift when the world-famous executive returned to deliver the keynote speech at their Investiture Ceremony. Pulling from years of hard-won wisdom, Immelt counseled the students, "The future’s going to be created by persistent, tough-minded optimists, like the ones I hope we have in this room."