Jeffrey Immelt Hired To Lead Obama's Economic Panel, But Can He Deliver On Job Creation?
As CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt used his ability to control the company's purse strings to draw creative, money-making and innovative ideas out of the minds of his top executives.
He tied the compensation of company leaders directly to their imaginative skills to generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from out-of-the-box thinking, especially in terms of sales and marketing. This was before the financial meltdown of 2007 through 2009 stopped the rise of most American companies in their tracks.
President Barack has now charged the 54-year-old, Ivy-League-educated CEO of GE with leading a Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Immelt had served on the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board under former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, but the president announced late Thursday plans to scrap the latter group in favor of the former.
Unlike at GE, he won't be able to use the threat of shredded paychecks to get a group of big business leaders, small business executives, labor leaders, government officials and academic experts to come up with innovative ideas. It's anybody's guess if on his own, he will foster enough persuasion to come up with the types of ideas Obama has unsuccessfully sought from others during the past two months to bring down the nation's 9 percent unemployment rate.
Immelt rose through the ranks of GE in 19 years, taking over as CEO four days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Born in Cincinnati, his $10 million annual compensation allows him to live in a small town in Connecticut that is one of America's richest cities. In his nine years as chairman and CEO, he has earned at least $90 million in salary, benefits and pension. The company had been performing relatively stable until its financial arm took a hit during the economic downturn.
As the leader of the job creation advisory group, Immelt wants to focus on increasing the amount of goods America exports by keeping manufacturing jobs in the U.S., signing free trade agreements with developing countries and getting companies and the government to invest in research and development.
Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to America this week brought hopefully the first of many more rounds of agreements to sell American-manufactured goods in China. For example, a Riverside, Calif. company will be shipping hundreds of RVs to China.
The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a hearing for next week that would begin the process of ratifying free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
And Immelt will use Obama's visit to a GE plan in upstate New York on Friday to highlight his company's investment of 6 percent of its revenue for research and development.
Immelt has 675 days to come up with ideas, rally the business community to support them and help Obama put them into action before the 2012 presidential election.