Jack Welch Management Institute is proud to grant honorary online MBA degrees to notable figures each Spring at JWMI’s graduation and induction ceremony.
Bill Conaty spent 40 years with GE before retiring at the end of 2007. As Senior Vice President for Human Resources from 1993 to 2007, he has long been recognized as a world leader in his field. In 2008 he joined Clayton, Dubilier, and Rice as an Advisory Partner.
A native of Binghamton, New York, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Bryant University in Rhode Island. After graduating from a three-year management program at GE and serving in the military, he held management positions in a number of GE operations including Aerospace, Rail, and Aircraft Engines. In 1990, he was elected a company officer and became Vice President for Human Resources at GE Aircraft Engines. Just three years later, he was selected by Jack Welch to the Senior Vice President of Corporate Human Resources with responsibility for over 320,000 employees worldwide. He served Welch for eight years and Jeff Immelt for six years before retiring.
Bill served as a Trustee at Sacred Heart University for over a decade and received an Honorary doctorate in May 2010. He currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, Bryant University. He also served on the Advisory Board of Cornell University’s Center for Advanced HR Studies, where his legacy continues with the GE endowment of the William J. Conaty Chair in Human Resources. In November 1996, he was inducted as a Fellow to the National Academy of Human Resources, elected Chairman in February 2001, and named Distinguished Fellow, the highest honor, in November 2007. Bill also served as Chairman of the HR Policy Association from 2001 to 2007. In 2011, he joined the Board of Directors at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and the Board of Trustees of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital.
Bill is active on the speaking circuit as a world leader in HR and has been a featured guest on CNBC’s Squawk Box. He co-authored a book with Ram Charan titled “The Talent Masters … Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers” which was published by Random House in November 2010.
As President and CEO, David Zaslav sets the strategy and oversees all operations for Discovery’s global suite of brands across pay-TV, free-to-air and digital platforms. Under his leadership, Discovery began trading as a public company in 2008 and became a Fortune 500 company in 2014. Most recently under Zaslav, Discovery acquired Scripps Networks Interactive, in a transaction which closed in March of 2018. Together, the combined companies comprise a world-class portfolio of real-life entertainment brands comprising nearly 20% of ad-supported pay-TV viewership in the U.S. and over 7 billion monthly video views. Zaslav has led Discovery since 2007, executing a number of initiatives that have focused the organization on growth, performance and operational efficiency. He also has directed a strategic effort to clarify and strengthen Discovery’s world-class brands with a renewed focus on diversified content and intellectual property.
Zaslav has led Discovery since 2007, executing a number of initiatives that have focused the organization on growth, performance and operational efficiency. He also has directed a strategic effort to clarify and strengthen Discovery’s world-class brands with a renewed focus on diversified content and IP.
Since Zaslav took the helm, Discovery has launched some of the fastest-growing cable networks in the U.S., including Investigation Discovery, the #1 network for women in total day delivery; and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, the #1 network for African American women.
The company’s global distribution platform has, under Zaslav’s leadership, expanded to 3 billion cumulative worldwide viewers with a diverse set of brands, creating an unmatched international portfolio for viewers, advertisers, and distributors. Zaslav has diversified Discovery’s content offering with investments such as kids in Latin America, which have led to Discovery Kids becoming the leading preschool network across the region. Discovery has further strengthened its presence in key international markets through numerous transactions including the acquisition of Eurosport, which led to the groundbreaking agreement with the International Olympic Committee making Discovery and Eurosport the home of the Olympic Games across Europe through 2024.
Zaslav has expanded Discovery’s audiences across all screens with digital content holding company Group Nine Media; OTT offering Eurosport Player; the GO portfolio of TVE apps; Discovery K!ds Play; and in August 2017, the formation of a joint venture between Discovery and TEN: The Enthusiast Network. The venture will bring together Discovery’s Velocity network with TEN’s entire automotive digital, direct-to-consumer, social and live event portfolio and marks Discovery’s first direct-to-consumer OTT push in the U.S.
Zaslav has received multiple awards for his contributions to the media industry as well as his philanthropic work, including the UJA-Federation of New York’s Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award, Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications Fred Dressler Leadership Award, the Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration’s inaugural Susan and S.I. Newhouse Award of Hope, and in 2017, was inducted into the prestigious Cable Hall of Fame.
At Discovery, Zaslav spearheaded the launch and growth of Discovery Impact, the company’s corporate social responsibility programs. In 2016, Zaslav led the launch of the company’s latest global conservation initiative, Project C.A.T.: Conserving Acres for Tigers, to help double the global wild tiger population by 2022.
Prior to joining Discovery, Zaslav had a distinguished career at NBCUniversal, where he was instrumental in developing and launching CNBC and also played a role in the creation of MSNBC. He was previously an attorney with the New York firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby & MacRae and graduated with honors from Boston University School of Law.
Zaslav serves on the boards of Sirius XM Radio, Inc., Lionsgate Entertainment, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, The Cable Center, Center for Communication, Skills for America’s Future, Grupo Televisa, Partnership for New York City and USC Shoah Foundation. He also is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Paley Center for Media, the Mt. Sinai Medical Center and previously served as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, where he created and taught a graduate-level course on the business of cable television.
As Kirk grew up, football was always his favorite sport. Kirk started out by playing flag football, which was a great way to learn the fundamentals of the sport before all the hard-hitting began.
In high school, Kirk was a three-sport athlete at Holland Christian High School. During his junior year, Kirk broke his ankle and was uncertain if he would someday be able to play Division 1 football. Little did he know what was to come! Kirk finished high school with 3,204 passing yards, 40 Touchdowns, and 18 interceptions.
In college, at Michigan State, Coach Dantonio and Kirk developed a great relationship after Dantonio gave him a chance when no other Big Ten coach would. Together, the Spartans found tremendous success on the field. Kirk graduated with many MSU records.
Kirk was drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL draft (#102 overall). At the beginning of the 2015 season, Coach Gruden named Kirk the starting quarterback and the Redskins went on to finish 9–7 that season. They were NFC East Division Champs and made their first trip to the playoffs in four years. On March 15, 2018, Kirk signed with the Minnesota Vikings on a three-year contract. They are excited for the future in Minnesota.
Personally, Kirk and his wife, Julie, were married on June 28, 2014. They welcomed their first child, Cooper, into the world on September 29, 2017. Currently, the family splits their time in the Minneapolis area, Georgia, and Michigan. Both Kirk and Julie are committed to impacting people through numerous volunteer roles, speaking engagements, and Kirk’s annual Football Camp in Holland, Michigan. Together the Cousins family gives thanks to God for increased opportunities to make a difference both on and off the football field.