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GM Loses Key PR Exec

Likely heir apparent Tony Cervone instead departs for UAL.

by on Feb.05, 2009

Gone to Chicago, GM PR's #2, Tony Cervone

Gone to Chicago, GM PR's #2, Tony Cervone

He seemed the most likely heir to the coveted PR throne at General Motors Corp., but instead, 46-year-old Tony Cervone is decamping from Detroit and heading over to Chicago, where he’ll become chief communications officer and senior vice president of UAL Corp., the parent of United Airlines.

Why, well Cervone isn’t saying publicly. But there are plenty of reasons to speculate. Certainly, there’s a big opportunity in the Windy City, both as a great place to live, and also to take on a good job at an airline that’s already gone through its financial meltdown and is now showing signs of recovery.

As second-in-command to Steve Harris – who himself came out of retirement for a limited turn as GM’s media relations boss – Cervone was generally perceived to be the man in line for the top job. And there was little to indicate he’d fallen out of favor with CEO Rick Wagoner, who would have to sign off on Harris’s eventual replacement.