Though he insists he likes cars, Ed Whitacre, Jr. is not your classic “car guy,” which to some is a good thing. Trained as a telecommunications engineer, the 68-year-old Texan rose to the top at SBC, one of the smaller “Baby Bells” spun off after the break-up of AT&T, eventually staging the highly unlikely takeover of SBC’s one-time parent.
Equally unlikely was the call Whitaker got from the White House task force. A one-time top fundraiser for former President George W. Bush, Whitaker was named head of the newly-reconstituted Board of Directors following General Motors’ July 10 re-emergence from bankruptcy.
Whitaker has little patience for those who don’t deliver, according to those who know him, something he demonstrated, a week ago, when he led the ouster of GM’s popular CEO Fritz Henderson. For the time being, at least, Whitaker is serving as Acting CEO while a search begins for Henderson’s replacement.
In his first interaction with the media since the GM shake-up, Whitaker today held a brief, 38-minute webchat with journalists, a digital conversation that underscored his way of keeping things short and simple – if not always providing the necessary details or allowing follow up queries for clarification. Here’s a transcript of the conversation: