John Francis "Jack" Welch, Jr. is a retired American business executive, author and chemical engineer. He was chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001. During his tenure at GE, the company's value rose 4,000%. In 2006, Welch's net worth was estimated at $720 million. When he retired from GE he took a severance payment of $417 million, the largest such payment in history.