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Fatal Attraction in the Boardroom: GE Interview Turns Editor Into Homewrecker


Working for a prestigious magazine, Suzy Wetlaufer scores the story of her life.

Former General Electric (GE) CEO and Chairman Jack Welch wasn't current wife Suzy Wetlaufer's first conquest.

During her tenure as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review, her romantic exploits were well-known.

In the New York magazine article "If You Knew Suzy…" coworkers of the 42-year-old devout Christian detailed outwardly promiscuous behavior -- a "wild romance" with a 22-year-old editorial assistant, alleged affairs with high-profile executives including Jacques Nasser, who, at the time, was CEO of Ford (F) and Nestlé CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe.

Though Wetlaufer officially denied anything untoward happened between her and Nasser (though a colleague claims she told a story about being in a bar with Nasser, stripping down to a black bra, and dancing on a table) or Brabeck-Letmathe (who reportedly invited her to "go fly someplace and land on a glacier" and sent flowers and chocolates to her office on multiple occasions), there is no disputing that the divorced mother of four dove headfirst into a torrid romance with Welch after interviewing him for a profile in 2001.

Upon learning of the affair, the Harvard Business Review, concerned for the publication's credibility, forced Wetlaufer to resign. The assignment to interview Welch was subsequently given to another editor for completion.

At the time of their first meeting, Welch had been married to his second wife, Jane Beasley, for 13 years. Welch -- worth an estimated $720 million -- left Beasley for Wetlaufer, whom he wed in 2004.

Welch told CBS's (CBS) Dan Rather that he had no regrets about marrying Wetlaufer, and believes he did nothing wrong, even though he was married at the time their relationship began.
Rather pressed Welch to confirm the rumor that he asked Wetlaufer to turn her tape recorder off during their initial interview. Welch responded:

"Yes. I wanted to know more about her. It was a perfectly harmless exchange between the two of us. It lasted probably about 10 minutes max, maybe five. I asked her about her kids, about her marriage."

Sounds like Welch was doing a little investigative reporting himself.

So, where are they now?

Jack and Suzy Welch are living in Boston, Massachusetts, and co-wrote the international best seller Winning (HarperCollins, 2005) followed by the sequel Winning: The Answers. Mrs. Welch also authored 10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea, which covered decision-making strategies for success at the workplace, parenting, love, and friendship.

Jack Welch serves as head of Jack Welch, LLC. He wrote the international bestselling autobiography, Jack: Straight from the Gut for which he received a $7 million dollar advance. He and his wife also co-wrote a weekly column, "The Welch Way", which appeared in BusinessWeek magazine and in more than 45 major newspapers around the world from 2005-2009.

Welch, now 74 years old, and his blushing bride, have been married for five years now. Let's hope he doesn't receive any interview requests from young journalists impressed by power and wealth -- if, as they say, history repeats itself, we could very well be seeing a fifth Mrs. Welch in the not-too-distant future.

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