Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Posts Tagged ‘GM management changes’

GM CEO Whitacre Takes Over Product Planning

Engineering loses power and is forced to look outside.

by on Jun.04, 2010

"My motivation for doing this has not changed."

"We needed more input from marketing and the different regions in the planning mix."

General Motors has re-shuffled key executives once again this week as it moved responsibility for global product planning from under vice chairman Tom Stephens and into the office of GM Chairman Ed Whitacre.

The change came as GM also announced it was setting up its own venture capital fund to invest in companies that could potentially bring new technology into the automotive market.

“We are constantly looking for ways to deliver the best technology for our customers,” said Stephen J. Girsky, vice chairman and vice president Corporate Strategy and New Business Development.

“Our goal is to nurture these innovative technologies to help bring them to market, and to ensure our customers have access to the best technology available,” said Girsky, a former Wall Street financial executive. The fund will be headed by Jon Lauckner, who has been serving as vice president of global product planning, reporting to Stephens.

Lauckner’s replacement as vice president of global product planning will now report to Whitacre and will work more closely with GM’s 12-member executive committee.

“The idea was we needed more input from marketing and the different regions in the planning mix,” said one GM official.

“It will elevate the role of planning and make it more visible in the company,” said another GM official.

GM also confirmed it was shifting Dan Hancock, now in charge of GM’s powertrain engineering, to a newly created position of vice president for global alliances and joint ventures. “We have a lot of talent in the company and we’re trying to get some fresh eyes on the things,” according to one official familiar with the shift.

The appointments of Lauckner, Hancock and Carlisle, however, indicated Whitacre wants to force GM’s still potent engineering community to open up to more outside influences.

Carlisle’s appointment, however, brought additional changes to GM North American sales organization, which has been led by a succession of executives in the past year. Don Johnson, who will return to the U.S. from an assignment with GM’s international operations, GM spokeswoman Sherrie Childers Arb said.

Jamie Hresko will become vice president of global powertrain engineering operations, replacing Hancock and Hresko’s current job of vice president of global quality will go to Dan Nicholson, who is presently in charge of integration of electronics and software on GM vehicles.

GM’s Lutz Retires on May 1

Government appointed CEO Whitacre continues purge.

by on Mar.03, 2010

Fare thee well, Bob, you will be missed.

General Motors Vice Chairman Robert A. Lutz, 78, will retire effective May 1, 2010, ending a 47-year career in the auto industry that included senior leadership positions at four of the world’s leading automakers.

It also included the bankruptcies at three of the companies where he was a senior member of management where high stakes bets are the price of poker.

The announcement came as no surprise in Detroit circles where it was increasingly clear that GM CEO and Chairman Ed Whitacre was spending little – if any – time with Lutz, but rather listening,  raptly, to the advice of Steven J. Girsky, 47, who in February was appointed GM vice chairman, corporate strategy and business development after a long career with now  controversial Wall Street firms.

Girsky was appointed to the GM board of directors, with U.S. Treasury Department approval, as GM was emerging from bankruptcy in July 2009. Whitacre, of course, also owes his job to Treasury, which financed GM’s survival with billions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Lutz, 78, rejoined GM September 1, 2001, as the head of product development, and has led the company’s resurgence in developing great cars and trucks. He also worked at BMW, as president of Chrysler, vice president of Ford and CEO of Exide battery.

Lutz had announced his retirement last year, but stayed on at the request of then CEO Fritz Henderson, who Whitacre replaced with himself.

Lutz set GM product development and design on the path it remains on today, with markedly improved cars and trucks appearing with each new iteration. He also presided over some flops, notably moving  an expensive European product lineup into the now failed Saturn brand.

Much beloved by the media for his non-scripted quotes, Lutz performed the Herculean task of cleaning out GM’s Augean Stables.

Much beloved by the media for his irreverent and non-scripted quotes, Lutz performed the Herculean task of cleaning out GM’s Augean Stables with unparallel success.

It remains to be seen if the momentum he provided in product development can be maintained in a company run by financially and politically oriented executives – who make no bones about paying off massive government loans of $50 billion as their primary task.   (more…)

GM Reorganizes North American Leadership Again

Docherty relieved of sales as GM ousted from top spot by Ford.

by on Mar.02, 2010

Carlisle worked with Reuss in Asia. Marketing is getting much higher level executives.

General Motors announced today a restructured North American organization with Steve Carlisle appointed vice president, U.S. sales operations, responsible for dealer network, retail sales support and fleet & commercial.

Carlisle was most recently executive director, GM South East Asia Operations, where he worked with Mark Reuss, GM North America president.

Susan Docherty is appointed vice president, U.S. marketing. Docherty previously also had sales responsibility. Both Docherty and Carlisle will report directly to Reuss.

The changes come as Ford Motor reported sales of 142,285 units in February, ousting General Motor,  which sold 141,951 units. Toyota is now in a distant third place at 100,000 units. It was the first time that Ford surpassed GM in U.S. monthly sales since 1998.

Reuss said that “GM was not moving forward fast enough or with enough success.”

Divisional managers no longer exist at GM’s four remaining brands.