Those who work on the 38th floor of Detroit’s Renaissance Center can be forgiven for feeling like the revolving door has been stuck in overdrive. The senior management offices for General Motors have seen a steady stream of new faces since the beginning of 2009, virtually every top position having changed – at least once – since the giant automaker began sliding towards bankruptcy.
But nowhere has that change been more apparent – or frequent – than in the top spot, where long-time chief executive Rick Wagoner was fired by the Obama Administration, in March 2009, as part of its $50 billion bailout of the troubled carmaker. Today, the fourth CEO in barely two years takes the reigns from Ed Whitacre, the lanky Texan and former AT&T Chairman, who announced his sudden departure last month after laying out the plans for GM’s upcoming IPO.
The new CEO is, to some, an unlikely figure to be running the car company. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Dan Akerson is not your classic car guy. In fact, he’s had no experience at all with the auto industry other than overseeing several companies linked to the car business when Akerson served as managing director of the powerful private equity firm, The Carlyle Group.