GE's Post-Immelt Exodus Accelerates in Echo of Welch Succession
(Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co.’s management overhaul Friday marked the latest departures of high-profile executives from a company that has traditionally served as an incubator of corporate bosses.
Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Bornstein is leaving at the end of the year. Two other company veterans and GE vice chairs, Beth Comstock and John Rice, are retiring from the company. They’re following Steve Bolze, who ran the power division and left shortly after John Flannery was named as GE’s next chief executive officer in June.
Bolze joined a newly formed infrastructure business at Blackstone Group. There’s no telling what Bornstein, 51, will do next, or whether the other soon-to-be alumni will take on new roles in business.
But veterans of the Boston-based company are typically a hot commodity. GE’s last CEO transition, when Jeffrey Immelt took over 16 years ago from Jack Welch, spawned a generation of corporate leaders for companies such as Boeing Co., Home Depot Inc. and Honeywell International Inc.
Immelt himself was a candidate to become the next CEO of Uber Technologies Inc. And the corporate landscape is still full of GE veterans:
Jim McNerney Jr.
McNerney jumped to 3M Co. as chairman and CEO shortly after the Immelt decision. He became CEO of Boeing in 2005, bringing Welch’s focus on financial discipline to the U.S. planemaker after early stumbles with the 787 Dreamliner, the company’s costliest jetliner. He stepped down in 2015, when Dennis Muilenburg took over.
A Welch protege who joined GE in 1971 and eventually ran the power systems division, Nardelli left the company almost immediately after he was passed over for CEO in favor of Immelt. He became CEO of Home Depot, where he stayed until 2007, and later ran Chrysler.
After Welch told Cote at a private dinner he wasn’t among the finalists for GE’s top job, the then-chief of GE’s appliances unit left the company in 1999. Following a brief stint as CEO of auto-parts maker TRW Inc., Cote took over at Honeywell International Inc. in 2002. He handed the CEO reins to Darius Adamczyk in March and will remain chairman until next year.
In a 19-year career at GE, Donnelly rose to head of the prominent aviation unit. He was named CEO of Textron Inc. in 2009 after spending 18 months as chief operating officer. Donnelly steered Textron and its flagship private-aircraft maker Cessna through a business jet slump. With investment in new planes including the Latitude, Cessna’s shipments have risen since 2013, bucking an industry trend.
Calhoun left GE in 2006 after a 27-year career in which he had run most of the major businesses including transportation, aircraft engines, lighting and reinsurance. He became CEO of VNU, a media company owned by a group of private-equity firms including Blackstone Group and KKR & Co. VNU changed its name to Nielsen in January 2007. Calhoun stepped down in 2014 to head Blackstone’s private equity operations.
After joining GE in 1989, McAllister worked his way up in the jet-engine unit and became CEO of the services business. A potential candidate to run GE Aviation, he was snatched by Boeing last year to head the company’s $65 billion commercial airplane division.
Gentile is president and CEO of Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc., Boeing’s largest supplier. He previously served as chief operating officer for GE Capital, led GE’s health-care systems business and ran GE Aviation’s Services division.
The Italian-born head of GE Oil & Gas joined the company in 1994 and analysts considered him to be a possible replacement for Immelt. Then the division merged with Baker Hughes Inc. and Simonelli became CEO of the combined company. He didn’t leave the family entirely, though: GE still owns a majority stake in the combined company.