John Francis "Jack" Welch, Jr. is an 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 4000%. 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.