What if Something Happens to Your Corporate Jet? Use Your Backup!

It didn’t help Immelt’s case that even as GE was falling apart, he was growing enormously wealthy. He drew a titanic salary, routinely ending the year as one of the highest-paid CEOs in the country. In 2015, the year he struck the disastrous deal for Alstom, he made $33 million. And when Immelt traveled the world in GE’s corporate jet, he routinely had an extra jet follow behind, just in case the one he was on broke down. When it was revealed, this “chase plane” became a metaphor for all that was wrong with GE—a company obsessed with appearances, run by a CEO who was out of touch, wasting resources on something that added no value. Immelt, said one prominent analyst, was “the imperial CEO,” noting that “not even heads of state get that kind of treatment.” If GE was squandering money on a second plane, he wondered, what else were they doing? “You really have to question the financial oversight and controls and internal audit,” he said. “You have to question the entire organization.”

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