Mr. McGuire was right.

McGuire, a fictional character played by actor Walter Brooke, makes a small but memorable appearance in the famous 1967 Dustin Hoffman movie, The Graduate.

Hoffman's character, Benjamin Braddock, is at a party hosted by his parents, when Mr. McGuire gives him an important and succinct piece of career advice: plastics. General Electric ( GE) CEO Jeff Immelt was 11 when the Graduate came out, so who knows when he saw The Graduate. That was racy fare for its day, and I doubt Jeff's parents would have let him watch it.

But he probably saw it at some point and while it is tempting to say he didn't get the joke, it looks like he got it better than the rest of us.

After getting his M.B.A. from Harvard University, Immelt "held a series of leadership positions with GE Plastics in sales, marketing and global product development," according to GE's 2009 proxy statement. Immelt has served as CEO since 2001 and the company sold its plastics business to the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation for $11.6 billion in 2007.

Even though he accepted no bonus in 2008, Immelt earned $5.3 million in combined cash and equity compensation last year according to the same proxy statement. While that's a big drop from the $13.8 million he got in 2007, it's still enough money to weather the global economic downturn for quite some time on a private island someplace.

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