Jack Welch on the executive MBA he created in his own image

In 2009, he eschewed full-time retirement at his Florida home to set up the Jack Welch Management Institute, with a view to rolling out the next generation of Jack Welches. His name is upfront and he is proud of it. “It’s mine. I can design the faculty. I can select the dean. I can control the product.”

Nor does the marketing slogan for his executive MBA pull its punches: “Most MBA programmes study great leaders. Ours is taught by one,” it reads.

Sitting in his central Manhattan apartment, which has some of the best views of New York that money can buy, Welch counters the notion that becoming a business professor is a reinvention. “I’ve spent 20 years at GE teaching. I taught every month. Then I taught at MIT [Sloan School of Management] for five years,” he begins. “I love the process – I’ve been hooked on it for 35 years.”

In truth, Welch, who has lost little of the penetrating stare of his GE days, displays an enthusiasm for the subject of education that few business school professors can muster. But the man known for his pugnacity holds little truck with the scale, the focus and the business model of the traditional business school.

The traditional MBA, he says, is “a gracious way to change jobs because you made a mistake the first time”. And business schools are inefficient. “I just saw overheads everywhere and I saw the cost of tuition racing ahead as these overheads built up.”

Yet he insists that the online Jack Welch EMBA is not competing directly with the elite MBA programmes. “We are not that system; this is not us versus them,” he says.

Instead, it is all a matter of scale. Previously, on a campus-based programme, “I was teaching 35 kids in a classroom”, complains Welch. “I was teaching 35 people from 4pm to 5.30pm. Now I’m on video with 400 or 500.”..

Read full story: Financial Times

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