WORCESTER, Mass. – Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) announced today that Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric Company (GE), will deliver the address at its 140th Commencement exercises on May 17.
Immelt, 51, was appointed the ninth chairman of GE in September 2001. Since then, he has led the legendary 130-year-old American company to consistent economic growth around the world, with an average of 10 percent annual financial growth over the past five years. In 2007, GE generated double-digit earnings and revenue growth ($173 billion in revenues and $22.5 billion in earnings). With Immelt at the helm, he reshaped GE's portfolio for long-term growth, and its stock is among the most widely held in the world. The company's product line spans jet engines, locomotives, energy production, commercial and consumer finance, health care equipment, home appliances, and entertainment. Also under Immelt's leadership, GE was one of the first corporations to publicly launch a viable business strategy to address the world’s need for sustainable energy and environmentally advanced technology.
"Jeffrey Immelt is a distinguished and visionary leader, whose passion for innovation and commitment to global citizenship have had a tremendous impact not only on American business but also on the lives of individuals around the world," said WPI President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey. "I am delighted that our 2008 graduates will be moving into the next stage of their lives with the advantage of his wisdom and experience."
Immelt joined GE in 1982 and has held a variety of global leadership posts, including roles in GE's plastics, appliance, and medical businesses. He became an officer of GE in 1989, joined the GE Capital Board in 1997, and was named president and chief executive officer in 2000, succeeding Jack Welch.
GE, which employs more than 300,000 employees worldwide, has earned widespread respect and frequent accolades from the business media since Immelt was appointed chairman and CEO, including being named "America's Most Admired Company" in a poll conducted by Fortune magazine and one of "The World's Most Respected Companies" in polls by Barron's and The Financial Times. Barron's has twice named Immelt one of the "World’s Best CEOs."
A member of The Business Council, Immelt also serves on the boards of three non-profit organizations: Catalyst, devoted to advancing women in business; Robin Hood, focused on addressing poverty in New York City; and the New York Federal Reserve Bank. He earned a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics from Dartmouth College in 1978 and an MBA from Harvard University in 1982. He and his wife, Andrea, have one daughter.