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Luke's Tribute To His Favorite Female Journalists

Harvard Business School Bulletin, April 2001 issue:

Suzy Wetlaufer (MBA ’88) describes working at the city desk of the Miami Herald, where she was a reporter for two years, as “tremendously fun and exciting.” However, she adds, “I just never got comfortable invading people’s privacy — knocking on somebody’s door after a tragedy to beg for an interview didn’t work for me.” A stint as a New England business correspondent for the Associated Press was a better fit. “Suddenly I was interviewing CEOs and covering banking scandals, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is where it’s happening,’ ” says the energetic former Harvard Crimson reporter.

Wetlaufer, who applied to the School on a lark, accepted a position at Bain & Company after graduating from HBS as a Baker Scholar. She and a Bain partner later wrote an article about leadership styles and submitted it to the Harvard Business Review. “It was a match made in heaven,” she says of her first encounter with the 78-year-old business magazine. Wetlaufer joined HBR as a senior editor in 1996 and was named editor last October. She has worked with many of the world’s experts on leadership and organization to publish groundbreaking articles. As editor, she oversees a staff of 35, as well as editorial acquisitions and development for the magazine, which recently increased its frequency from six to ten issues per year. “HBR has always been serious, authoritative, and elegant,” notes Wetlaufer. “We are working now to be more like ourselves, only better. We’ve added ‘modern’ and ‘immensely relevant’ to our list of qualities, so that if you aren’t reading HBR, you are missing out.”

3/4/02

From the Wall Street Journal: There's a staff mutiny afoot at the vaunted Harvard Business Review. Four top Review editors have written letters to the editorial director of Harvard Business School's publishing operation, seeking the resignation of their boss, Editor Suzy Wetlaufer.

Citing perceived ethical breaches by Ms. Wetlaufer, some of the letter writers said she had lost the confidence of a majority of the magazine's top editors.

The revolt was catalyzed by an aborted article by Ms. Wetlaufer, in which she interviewed former General Electric Co. Chairman Jack Welch. In late December, after the article was in its final editing stages, Ms. Wetlaufer called her boss, Walter Kiechel, editorial director for Harvard Business School Publishing, to recommend that it be scrapped, according to people familiar with the situation. The reason Ms. Wetlaufer gave was that she "had become too close to Jack" to avoid the appearance that the article wouldn't be objective, these people say.

Several weeks before the story was pulled, Ms. Wetlaufer told at least three Review staffers that she and Mr. Welch were having a romantic relationship, people familiar with the conversations say. Asked when she became romantically involved with Mr. Welch, Ms. Wetlaufer said in a prepared statement: "several weeks after [her] interview was written, edited and moved into production." Mr. Welch says that a "friendship" with Ms. Wetlaufer developed during the course of her story preparation, calling her "quick" and "funny."

3/24/02

St. Petersburg Times: Last fall, the 66-year-old former GE chairman gave an interview to 42-year-old Suzy Wetlaufer, the editor of the Harvard Business Review. A romantic relationship quickly blossomed. And that prompted the 49-year-old Mrs. Welch to call Wetlaufer in December and question her, shall we say, journalistic integrity. Wetlaufer, divorced with four kids, went to her superiors and confessed to the dalliance.

4/26/02

San Francisco Chronicle 4/26/02

Suzy Wetlaufer, the Harvard Business Review editor who began an affair with former General Electric CEO Jack Welch after being dispatched to write about him, quit her post at the Review on Wednesday. A written statement said she believed that the Review "will never again be a place where I will be able to work to my full potential." Vanity Fair's June issue will include a story saying that life-of-the- interview Wetlaufer also interviewed and then had a relationship with Ford's Jacques Nasser (who told the New York Daily News he is "flabbergasted by some of the fiction that's going around") and another mogul CEO who's lucky enough to be unnamed and that she also took up with a 24-year-old editorial assistant in the office.

5/6/02

From New York magazine: Last October, Suzy Wetlaufer, the editor of the Harvard Business Review, returned to her Watertown office breathless and giddy after a trip to New York. She had gone down to interview America's Mogul, Jack Welch. Which, at the time, seemed like nothing more than a score for the Review. "We got along great, we had the best time," she gushed to one senior editor. To another, she said that, in the charismatic former CEO of General Electric, she had "finally met a man with as much energy" as she had. Then: "Jack says he wants to spend the holidays with me and my family."

But inside HBR, the best copy was Suzy. And it wasn't just that wild romance she had with a 22-year-old editorial assistant.

Staff members recall Wetlaufer telling tales about recently separated Ford CEO Jacques Nasser, for example, including the time she accompanied him to Game 1 of the 2000 World Series and sat in a VIP box "flipping through Vogue." (Her colleagues were appalled; "I said, 'Tickets to the World Series are wasted on people like you,' " remembers Collingwood.) And there was the time she interviewed Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the CEO of Nestlé, who "invited her to go fly someplace and land on a glacier," she told one staff member. The office was inundated with Nestlé chocolates for weeks. More impressive were the huge flower arrangements from Nasser -- "top of the line, from the best place in town," according to a staff member who worked intimately with Wetlaufer. "The flower carcasses around here were immense."

When Suzy flew to Ireland at Christmastime in 2000, she bragged that Nasser showed up and they rang in 2001 at a pub. "She told me this great story," says Collingwood, "about being in a bar with a bunch of drunken Irishmen with Jacques and Jacques's brother, and how everybody got hammered and they were playing rock and roll. So she jumped up on a table and started dancing and took off her shirt and was dancing on the table in her black bra."

Later, the staff would put together the time line of when the sex began, based on what Suzy had come back and shared: After the photo shoot in GE's offices, where Jack once reigned supreme, the couple repaired to the '21' Club for a lingering lunch. That evening, they went out dancing. Later that evening is almost certainly when they officially crossed the line between reporter and subject. She told at least one editor that she spent some quality time at Jack's apartment at Trump Tower.

All of which might have gone unnoticed by the world outside Harvard had it not been for The Phone Call. On December 26 -- as Wetlaufer's big interview, titled "Jack on Jack," was heading to the printer -- Jane called.

5/13/02

You're not alone, Suzy Wetlaufer.

Like the dethroned Harvard Business Review editor, 62 percent of Americans have had an office romance, a new survey says. Even more surprising, 41 percent had sex on the job - with half of them doing it on a desk and 16 percent in the boss' office.

The survey, conducted by Elle magazine and MSNBC, analyzed the replies of 31,000 people who answered an Internet questionnaire. It found that of the 62 percent who had an office romance, 42 percent were married or in a relationship. Half the women and 20 percent of the men had a romance with a superior.