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Q&A: GM’s Susan Docherty

“We have no reason to be cocky or arrogant anymore.”

by on Apr.13, 2009

"We have no reason to be cocky or arrogant anymore," says GM Vice President Susan Docherty.

"We have no reason to be cocky or arrogant anymore," says GM Vice President Susan Docherty.

She may have one of the toughest jobs at General Motors.  As the new vice president of the BPG Group, Susan Docherty has to find a way to take three troubled brands, Buick, Pontiac and GMC truck, and stitch them into a cohesive – and profitable – distribution channel. BPG is one of the three remaining pillars of the downsized General Motors, the other two channels being Chevrolet and Cadillac. It’s also one that critics say the company can no longer afford.

Company insiders say that if anyone is up to the challenge, it’s the 45-year-old Docherty, whose most recent assignment put her in charge of GM’s Western Region. It was a humbling experience, considering that in states like California, the automaker is barely an also-ran in an import-dominated market.

TheDetroitBureau’s Paul A. Eisenstein caught up with Docherty following her appearance at the New York International Auto Show, where GMC unveiled its critical new crossover, the Terrain.

TDB: General Motors has been making some major changes since it began asking for a government bailout.

Docherty: There’s an impression people have that we just got religion. A lot of what’s happening was already in place even before we went to Washington (last year) to ask for help. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re not the same old GM. But with the spotlight on us, it’s forced us to make decisions we might have wanted to years ago. We’ve made more changes, at GM, in the last eight months than we did in the last eight years. But change is not new for us. This isn’t our first rodeo.