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Is 13 a Lucky Number for GM’s Board?

With a lot of help from the U.S. Treasury, General Motors Company has a new governance structure.

by on Jul.23, 2009

Over to you Fritz, if the government actually lets you run the company.

Over to you Fritz, if the government actually lets you run the company.

The reorganization of General Motors finally caught up with the speed of its bankruptcy sale two weeks ago when the final appointments to its U.S. Government  vetted  Board of Directors  were announced this afternoon and most its new executive committee were  named.

The Executive committee will run the recovering company, and it replaces two previous boards, the Automotive Strategy Board and Automotive Product Board. Led by GM Company CEO Fritz Henderson, executive committee membership includes:

  • Bob Lutz, vice chairman, marketing and communications;
  • Tom Stephens, vice chairman, global product development;
  • Nick Reilly, executive vice president, GM International Operations;
  • Ray Young, executive vice president, chief financial officer;
  • Tim Lee, group vice president, global manufacturing and labor relations;
  • John Smith, group vice president, corporate planning and alliances, and secretary of the executive committee;
  • Mark LaNeve, vice president, U.S. sales;
  • Bob Socia, vice president, global purchasing and supply chain.
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“With these announcements, most of the new GM leadership team is in place,” Henderson said in a statement. “We expect to have the final round of announcements next week.”

At least six senior executives are retiring including Jonathan Browning, Troy Clarke, Gary Cowger, Michael Grimaldi, Maureen Kempston Darkes and Ralph Szygenda. More retirements are expected as the  company continues to pare its bloated executive ranks.

As Henderson previously noted, when announcing that senior management ranks would be trimmed by 35%, by year’s end, “We have a lot of good executives.  We just have too many of them.”

The new GM directors, most with financial and reorganization experience, elected on July 20, include:

  • Carol Stephenson, dean of Ivey School of Business at University of Western Ontario, and has been a member of the GM Canada Advisory Board
  • Daniel Akerson, managing director, The Carlyle Group
  • David Bonderman, co-founding partner, TPG
  • Robert Krebs, retired chairman and chief executive officer, Burlington Northern Santa Fe
  • Patricia Russo, former chief executive officer, Alcatel-Lucent

The 13-member board includes 10 representatives nominated by the United States Treasury, one representative nominated by the governments of Canada and Ontario and one representative nominated by the United Auto Workers Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, and Fritz Henderson, General Motors Company president and chief executive officer serves as the thirteenth member.

The board will be led by Chairman of the Board Edward E. Whitacre Jr., former chairman and CEO of AT&T. The retiree benefits trust selected veteran auto industry analyst Stephen Girsky as its board nominee last month.

Also serving on the board of directors of General Motors Company are six members of the former General Motors Corporation board: Erroll Davis, Jr., chancellor, University Systems of Georgia; Fritz Henderson, president and CEO, GM Company; Neville Isdell, retired chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company; Kent Kresa, chairman emeritus, Northrop Grumman Corporation; Philip Laskawy, retired chairman and CEO, Ernst & Young LLP; Kathryn Marinello, chairman and CEO, Ceridian Corp.

“The members of this new board of directors bring immense experience and diverse perspectives to the table, and that’s exactly what GM needs,” said Whitacre. “The collective expertise of the new board is vital at this time as GM seeks to redefine itself as the vehicle design and customer care leader of the extremely competitive auto business.”

Biographical summaries the newest GM board members
Daniel F. Akerson (60) has been managing director and co-head of the U.S. Buyout Fund of The Carlyle Group since 2003. He previously served as chairman and chief executive officer of XO Communications from 1999 to 2003. He served as chairman of Nextel Communications from 1996 to 2001 and chief executive officer from 1996 to 1999. Mr. Akerson is also a member of the board of American Express Company.

David Bonderman (66) is co-founding partner and managing general partner of TPG, a private investment firm founded in 1992. Prior to forming TPG, Mr. Bonderman served as chief operating officer of Robert M. Bass Group and a partner at Arnold & Porter LLP. Mr. Bonderman is also chairman of Ryanair Holdings PLC and a member of the board of CoStar Group, Inc., and Gemalto N.V., among others.

Stephen J. Girsky (47) is president of S. J. Girsky & Co., an independent advisory firm based in New York. Most recently, he was president of Centerbridge Industrial Partners, LLC, an affiliate of Centerbridge Partners, L.P., a private investment firm. Prior to joining Centerbridge, Mr. Girsky was a special advisor to the CEO and CFO of General Motors Corporation from 2005 to 2006. Mr. Girsky has also been an advisor to the UAW. Mr. Girsky also served as managing director at Morgan Stanley and a senior analyst of the Morgan Stanley automotive and auto parts research team. Mr. Girsky is also a former lead director of the board of Dana Holding Corporation.

Robert D. Krebs (67) is a retired chairman and CEO of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation (BNSF), where he served as Chairman from 2000 until 2002. He previously served as chairman and CEO of BNSF from 1999 until December 2000 and as chairman, president and CEO from 1997 to May 1999. Mr. Krebs is also a member of the board of UAL Corporation.

Patricia F. Russo (57) is former CEO of Alcatel-Lucent S.A., where she served from 2006 to 2008. Prior to the merger of Alcatel and Lucent in 2006, she served as chairman and CEO of Lucent Technologies, Inc. Prior to rejoining Lucent in 2002, Ms. Russo was president and COO of Eastman Kodak Company. Ms. Russo is also a member of the boards of directors of Alcoa Inc., and Schering-Plough Corporation.

Carol Stephenson (58) has been Dean of the Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario since 2003. She previously spent many years in the Canadian telecom industry, serving as president and CEO of Lucent Technologies Canada from 1999 to 2003. Ms. Stephenson is also a member of the board of directors of Intact Financial Services Corporation (formerly ING Canada) and has been a member of the General Motors of Canada Advisory Board.

Leadership Appointments and Retirements

Tim Lee, currently GM North America vice president, manufacturing, will become a group vice president, responsible for global manufacturing and labor relations. Prior to his current assignment, Lee, 58, was GM Europe vice president of manufacturing. He has also served as executive director of manufacturing engineering, as plant manager at several U.S. facilities, and in several leadership positions at Isuzu Motors in Japan.

Gary Cowger, group vice president, global manufacturing and labor relations, will retire at the end of the year. Until then, at Henderson’s request, Cowger will assume responsibility for the integration of Delphi facilities being acquired by GM and for the preparation and launch of a new battery assembly facility, details of which will be announced in the near future. Cowger, 62, joined GM as a co-op student at the Kansas City, Kansas plant, and served in various manufacturing and leadership roles in the U.S., Mexico and Europe, including chairman and managing director of Adam Opel AG and president and managing director of GM de Mexico. Prior to his current assignment, Cowger was president of GM North America.

Terry Kline, currently process information officer, product development, will be named vice president, information systems and services, and chief information officer. Kline, 47, joined GM in 2001 from New Venture Gear, where he was vice president and chief information officer. He has also served as executive director, global product development for information systems and services, and as interim chief information officer for GM Asia Pacific.

Ralph Szygenda, group vice president and chief information officer, will be retiring effective October 1. Szygenda, 60, joined GM in 1996 as vice president and chief information officer from Bell Atlantic, where he was vice president and chief information officer. Prior to that, Szygenda held a number of positions at Texas Instruments, including vice president for information systems and services and chief information officer. He also served as vice president and general manager of TI’s Enterprise Systems Business Unit.

Troy Clarke, group vice president and president, GM North America, will retire effective October 1. Clarke, 54, joined GM in 1973 as a co-op student at Pontiac Motor Division, and has served in a number of leadership positions at GM, including group vice president and president of GM Asia Pacific, group vice president of manufacturing and labor relations, and president and managing director of GM de Mexico. Henderson will assume responsibilities for GM’s North American operations.

Maureen Kempston Darkes, group vice president, GM Latin America, Africa and Middle-East, will retire at the end of this year. Kempston Darkes, 60, previously served as president and general manager of GM Canada. She also held a number of legal and finance positions in both the U.S. and Canada, including general counsel and secretary, and vice president for corporate affairs, both for GM Canada. Oversight of the countries in GM’s LAAM region will move to the GM International Operations, based in Shanghai.

Michael Grimaldi, GM Vice President and CEO GM Daewoo, will retire effective October 1. Grimaldi, 57, previously served as president and general manager of GM Canada, general manager, Field Sales, Service and Parts – North America VSSM and Vehicle Line Executive for Full Size Trucks. He also held a number of finance and planning positions. A replacement for Grimaldi will be announced by International Operations.

Sales and Marketing Appointments

In the GM Sales and Marketing organizations, the following appointments have been announced:

As previously confirmed, Mark LaNeve, has been named vice president, U.S. sales, reporting to Henderson.

Brent Dewar, 54, currently GME vice president, sales, marketing, and aftersales, will become vice president, global Chevrolet brand. He will be responsible for the Chevrolet brand in North America and Chevrolet brand coordination on a global basis.

Susan Docherty, 46, currently North America vice president, Buick-GMC channel, will be named general manager, Buick-GMC brands.

Bryan Nesbitt, 40, currently North America vice president, design, will become general manager, Cadillac brand.

Jay Spenchian, 50, currently executive director, marketing strategy support group, will continue in his role.

Dewar, Docherty, Nesbitt, and Spenchian will report to Lutz, effective August 1.

Jim Bunnell, 54, currently executive director, sales support group, will be named general manager, sales operations.

Steve Hill, 49, currently general sales manager, premium channel, will be named general manager, retail sales support.

Kurt McNeil, 45, currently general sales manager, Chevrolet sales, will continue in this role.

Ed Peper, 47, currently GM North America vice president, Chevrolet channel, will be named general sales manager, Cadillac sales.

Brian Sweeney, 42, currently general sales manager, Buick-GMC sales, will continue in his role.

Bunnell, Hill, McNeil, Peper, and Sweeney will report to LaNeve, effective August 1.

Jonathan Browning, 50, currently GM Vice President, Global Sales, Service and Marketing, has elected to leave the company on October 1 to pursue other interests. He will not be replaced and his staff will be merged into the North America and GMIO operations.

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2 Responses to “Is 13 a Lucky Number for GM’s Board?”

  1. Buickman says:

    John Smith and Mark LaNeve, two of the three last leaders of VSSM who are personally responsible for the demise of GM. they both are on the new Executive Committee. that’s more than ridiculous. guarantee GM nose dives to less than 10% market share within six months.

    same deck, only shuffled. too many Jokers, hardly any Aces.

  2. Ken Zino says:

    What happens as the four brands are phased out in the U.S. is crucial. If the roughly 4% share they hold is lost than GM will have a tough time getting close to break-even, estimated at an 18% share in a 10 million SAAR. Globally, although challenged in all regions except Asia, GM currently is hanging on to a 12% share.