Within automotive circles, you’ll often hear a debate over the role of “car guys” and “bean counters,” those who come from the product and engineering side and those with financial backgrounds. But the chimneys get narrower when you start talking about those who specialize in engineering, design, marketing or sales. And, with rare exception, those from one discipline don’t cross into another.
There are a few rare exceptions, like General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who was trained as a marketer, but spent the last eight years as GM’s “car czar,” before taking on his latest assignment as the automaker’s marketing chief. While that news made headlines, a similar transition slipped by almost entirely under the radar. Designer Bryan Nesbitt was named the new general manager of GM’s flagship Cadillac division.
The effervescent Nesbitt began making a name for himself at Chrysler, where he was credited with the design of the standout PT Cruiser. He was later wooed to GM, where he has been on the design fast track, taking on assignments in Europe, where he spent six years as design director, before a 2007 appointment as head of North American design. In his new role, Nesbitt will bring to market several of the products developed by his former design team, including the critical ATS entry-luxury model, and the premium luxury XTS4 sedan.
TheDetroitBureau’s Paul A. Eisenstein spoke with Nesbitt about his new job, those new products and the challenges facing Cadillac in a world full of tough luxury competition.