Celebrity Retirement Scorecard: Jack Welch

Who is making it? Who is not? We've concocted retirement scorecards for some showcase retirees in entertainment, politics and sports. See the full list here.

Jack WelchWinner: Jack Welch
Former occupation/notable position held: Chairman and CEO,GE (1981-2001)
Activities during retirement: BusinessWeek columnist; MIT professor; best-selling author; world traveler; avid golfer
Retirement Report Card Grade: A

Welch made his legendary leadership bones by declaring a company should be number one or number two in an industry, or not bother playing. He remade GE to that maxim, handsomely rewarding shareholders and himself (to the tune of $720 estimated net worth) along the way. Under Welch, GE's market value methodically climbed from $14 billion to more than $400 billion.

The portfolio approach Welch took at GE, with business units ranging from aerospace to broadcasting, is serving him well in retirement, too. There is a sense he's going for balance – a healthy mix of recreation, mental challenge and ongoing engagement in what he appeared to love most in his work: theorizing on and mentoring others in management.

In his best selling book Winning, he acknowledged that a bad back made him give up golf, and that he was surprised to learn he didn't miss it. (The back has since healed, and his back at it.) That bespeaks someone with multiple, primary interests, not just one post-career-defining passion.

Today, Welch spends his time teaching at MIT's Sloan School of Management, working with a select group of promising students with avowed interests in leadership. His vast contributions to Sacred Heart University's College of Business affected its renaming in his honor.

Welch co-authors a popular BusinessWeek column with his third wife, former Harvard Business Review editor Suzy Welch, with whom he travels the world extensively. The Red Sox and modern art are among other assets in his activity-rich, post-career portfolio.

You don't need a Jack Welch fortune to enjoy a Jack Welch retirement. Nurturing varied interests and staying connected to what we loved most about work are, happily, within most of our sites.


Michael Burnham is CEO of My Next Phase, a consulting firm offering non-financial retirement planning products and services (www.mynextphase.com).

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