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More Shake-Ups at GM

Heads of HR, PR exit as stock falls, investor concerns mount.

by on Apr.14, 2014

New GM HR Director John Quattrone.

Several key executives have handed in their resignations at General Motors. Both the maker’s PR and HR chiefs are off to “pursue other interests,” according to a GM statement, but the moves come at a critical time for the maker as it struggles to do damage control in the wake of an ongoing scandal over its handling of an ignition switch recall linked to at least 13 deaths.

The departures come at a time when GM CEO Mary Barra has had to put two veteran engineers on paid leave for their apparent role in handling a safety issue that the company reportedly knew about for at least a decade.

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Facing investigations by both houses of Congress, the Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as a number of lawsuits over the ignition switch recall, some observers question whether there could be further departures, with CEO Mary Barra’s own tenure hinging on how she manages the recall crisis.


Akerson Retiring, Barra Becomes New GM CEO, with Ammann President

51-year-old Barra is industry’s first woman chief executive.

by on Dec.10, 2013

GM names Barra its new CEO - and the first woman to lead a global automaker.

Just a day after the federal government ended its ownership stake in the post-bankruptcy General Motors, the automaker has announced a sweeping change in its management line-up.  That includes the retirement of Chairman and Chief Executive Dan Akerson, with Mary Barra taking his place as CEO of January 15, 2014.

The well-respected Barra, currently GM’s global product development czar, will become the first woman to serve as the chief executive officer of any major auto manufacturer in the world.

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Her new second-in-command will be Dan Ammann, a New Zealand native who signed on as GM chief financial officer after assisting the maker through its 2009 bankruptcy.

“I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America’s standard bearer in the global auto industry,”  Akerson said in a message to the maker’s 85,500 employees.


GM’s Exec Revolving Door Continues to Spin

Southeast Asian chief is latest to be broomed.

by on Jul.11, 2013

GM's outgoing Southeast Asian chief Martin Apfel with the Chevrolet Miray concept vehicle.

Another experienced executive has elected to quit a senior post with General Motors’ vital overseas operations in a sensitive and fast growing emerging market where GM has been pressing to gain market share.

Martin Apfel, president of GM South East Asia Operations, GM Thailand and Chevrolet Sales Thailand, has elected to leave General Motors, effective July 31, to “pursue other interests”. A permanent replacement will be announced at a later date.

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Apfel is the latest in a growing line of senior GM executives, a large share of them working abroad, who have tendered resignations in recent months – or been shown the door.  It’s unclear why so many are exiting at this point, even as GM’s overseas sales gain momentum, but CEO Dan Akerson has made a point of saying that the company will hold its managers more accountable for their work than in decades past.


Shake-Up at GM As Maker Prepares for Critical New Product Launches

“Playing offensive,” says NA Pres. Reuss.

by on May.18, 2012

GM shakes up its sales management ranks in advance of launching critical new products like the Cadillac XTS.

You might want to pick up a scorecard to keep up with all the changes as General Motors shuffles the key players in its sales operations.  The moves are timed to prepare for a host of critical new product launches coming over the next 18 months, including replacements for the makers aging full-sized pickups.

The realignment also suggests the maker wants to build up more momentum after a few months of lackluster sales.  While it has been gaining ground in the retail market overall GM sales fell behind the rest of the industry in March.

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GM North America president Mark Reuss said Alan Batey, 49, has been appointed to the newly created position of GM vice president, U.S. Sales and Service, reporting directly to Reuss. Other changes include:


GM Shake-Up: Liddell Out as CFO

Former Microsoft exec led GM through largest IPO in history.

by on Mar.10, 2011

Chris Liddell steps down as GM CFO.

This is an updated report on the original story posted by earlier this morning.

There’s another management shake-up at General Motors, this morning, with Chris Liddell stepping down as the Detroit maker’s chief financial officer.  He will be replaced by Dan Ammann, currently GM’s treasurer.

Liddell’s planned April 1 departure comes as something of a surprise – and for several reasons.  After a series of management shake-ups following its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in July 2009, GM’s senior ranks have been relatively stable in recent months, something insiders said was critical if the maker wanted to renew its focus on the business of designing, building and selling cars.

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But Liddell also was considered the key to General Motors’ wildly successful initial public offering.  The company initially expected to sell its new shares for as little as $26, but ultimately boosted the price to $33 – and sold a significantly larger large of the U.S. Treasury’s holdings than originally planned, ultimately raising about $23 billion in the process.

“Chris was instrumental in establishing a strong financial future for the company,” declared GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson during a Thursday morning news conference called to discuss the management shift.  Akerson described Liddell as “a catalyst for change” who “created a lower-risk profile” for the automaker after its emergence from bankruptcy.


Yet Another GM Shake-Up: Stephens Named Global Tech Chief

Mary Barra chosen as new product czar.

by on Jan.20, 2011

Another reason to celebrate? Newly-promoted Tom Stephens shown here last week with the Car of the Year trophy for Chevy Volt.

In ballpark lingo, it helps to have a scorecard to keep up with the players, as General Motors continues to shake up its top management ranks.

Just days after ousting the head of OnStar and realigning its marketing management team, GM has appointed product development chief Tom Stephens its new Chief Technology Officer, a job that will have the veteran exec overseeing everything from in-car infotainment to advanced battery propulsion systems.

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To fill Stephens old role, GM is appointing its first-ever woman “car czar.”  As global vice president of product development, Mary Barra will oversee design, engineering, program management – and, critically, quality improvement efforts – for the automaker’s 11 worldwide brands.


OnStar Ousts Preuss; Among Other GM Changes

Perry named U.S marketing chief.

by on Jan.18, 2011

Former OnStar President Chris Preuss during a presentation at CES, in Las Vegas, earlier this month.

General Motors launched another round of executive changes, ousting the head of OnStar and placing a new executive in charge of marketing the company’s four “core” brands in North America.

Linda Marshall has been appointed president of OnStar, effective February 1, 2011.  Marshall succeeds J. Christopher Preuss, who has “elected to leave the company” to launch a communications consultancy practice, GM said Tuesday.

“As we continue to evolve the OnStar brand and bring new features to our customers, we believe Linda’s deep experience can take the brand and platform to the next level,” said Stephen J. Girsky, vice chairman, corporate strategy and business development.

The shake-up at the telecommunications subsidiary comes as OnStar begins a big push to expand its customer base – among other things by offering an aftermarket mirror, which it will sell through Best Buy, that owners of non-GM vehicles can use to subscribe to the service.  Preuss launched that new product and outlined other OnStar plans, earlier this month, at the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.


Lutz Isn’t Leaving

But he’s not going to just be GM’s mascot, vice chairman says.

by on Dec.17, 2009

"Why stop?" askes 77-year-old Bob Lutz, who has signed on for another stint with General Motors, this time running the automaker's marketing operations.  But he cautions he has just six months to prove he's up to that task.

Unless the Board shows him the door - or his health fails, Lutz has no plans to retire soon. Just don't call the 77-year old GM's mascot.

Reports of Bob Lutz’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.  Just ask the septuagenarian General Motors vice chairman.

It’s been a chaotic month at GM, with a CEO fired, a new Buick boss quitting after just eight days, and enough other personnel changes to require a scorecard to keep up.  When Vice Chairman Bob Lutz was stripped of his duties as marketing czar, two weeks ago, many observers were ready to bet that the former Marine pilot would be the next out the door.

They would have bet wrong, said Lutz, who turned out for a Wednesday night preview of new Chevrolet products.

“I’m happy as a clam,” the 77-year-old Swiss-born Lutz proclaimed while leaning against the next-generation Chevy Malibu.

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“If left to me, as long as I have the energy, as long as I have my health, as long as I have my the drive and ability to contribute,” he asserted, “I’ll stay.  If not, I’ll retire.”  Of course, Lutz quickly added, “I serve at the will of the Board,” and, in particular, the will of GM’s determined new Chairman and Acting CEO Ed Whitacre, Jr.


GM Reassigns CFO to International Operations

Ray Young remains with automaker’s new management team.

by on Dec.14, 2009

In an unexpected move, Ray Young will relinquish the GM CFO title but stay on as International Operations Vice President.

In an unexpected move, Ray Young will relinquish the GM CFO title but stay on as International Operations Vice President.

Long expected to leave the automaker after helping guide it through its brush with bankruptcy, Chief Financial Office Ray Young will instead stay on as part of General Motors new management team.  But the Chinese-born CFO will now head over to GM’s critical International Operations.

A new CFO is expected to be brought on board within the next few weeks, according to a broad hint by Chairman and Acting Chief Executive Ed Whitacre, Jr.  As IO’s new Vice President, Young will now focus his talents on managing the international units finances, along with other duties that will be “clarified in the near-term,” according to a GM news release.

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The 47-year-old executive took on the CFO role in March 2008, replacing Fritz Henderson, himself a veteran from GM’s International Operations.  Henderson went on to become Chief Executive Officer, in March of this year, replacing Rick Wagoner, who was ousted by the White House “auto czar.”  (Henderson was himself fired, last month.)  Young helped manage the tricky finances of a Chapter 11 filing but, shortly after GM emerged from bankruptcy, in July, it was announced that the executive would be leaving his post.


GM’s Latest Shake-Up Nets Buick’s Richards, Chevy’s Dewar

by on Dec.10, 2009

Former Ford veteran Michael Richards lasted just 8 days as General Manager of GM's Buick division.

Former Ford veteran Michael Richards lasted just eight days in his post as General Manager of GM's troubled Buick division.

Even in the “new” General Motors, Michael Richards has set a record for short tenure, the Buick boss lasting just eight days before being resigned.

He will be followed out the door by long-time GM executive Brent Dewar, who was ousted this week as general manager of the automaker’s biggest brand, Chevrolet.

The latest management roil reflects the heavy hand of Chairman and Acting CEO Ed Whitacre, Jr., who has made it clear that performance is everything, and those who don’t deliver won’t be around very long.

Richards’ appointment as Buick General Manager was announced just before the division’s news conference during the Los Angeles Auto Show, on Wednesday, December 2nd.  He was something of a surprise appointment, coming to GM from cross-town rival Ford Motor Co. Insiders say Michaels, a 27-year Ford veteran, left, in 2008, after a falling out with that company’s marketing chief Jim Farley.

Apparently, Richards didn’t do much better building relations at General Motors.

“We’re just saying that he is leaving the company,” responded spokesman Tom Wilkinson.

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But a source, speaking on a request of anonymity, noted that Richards “timing wasn’t great.”

The executive was hired by former GM CEO Fritz Henderson, himself ousted last week, and Vice Chairman Bob Lutz.  Until last Friday, Lutz was serving as GM’s marketing chief, but he had that assignment – along with most of his other duties – stripped by Whitacre and given to fast-rising star Susan Docherty, who was overseeing GM’s North American sales operations.  Previously, the Canadian-born Docherty was in charge of the Buick-Pontiac-GMC group.