GM announced a plan to replace Ed Whitacre as CEO and Chairman of the Board with Dan Akerson. This is not a surprising move.
Akerson fits all the current checkboxes for a proper leader of GM. Besides being white and having gray hair and a penis, which are the most common features of automotive leaders, Akerson meets the popular current criteria of being a non-auto industry guy with multiple CEO leadership positions in the past. With the success of Ford under a former Boeing gent, GM has gone even further away from the miserable groupthink-prone auto industry pool of leaders with telecomm veteran Akerson.
We just hope that under Akerson GM doesn’t mimic the telecommunications industry by offering innovative, but constantly changing priced and packaged products with horrible customer service. Come to think of it, the only industries offering worse customer service than automotive are telecommunications, airline travel and banking.
Here’s GM’s official announcement:
DETROIT – General Motors today said that Edward E. Whitacre, Jr. will step down as chief executive officer on September 1, 2010, and as chairman of the board by the end of the year, having successfully led the company’s return to profitability after the most turbulent period in its history.
Earlier today, GM reported its second consecutive quarter of profits after a string of losses dating back to 2007.
Dan Akerson, 61, who has served on the GM board of directors since July 2009, will become CEO on September 1 and chairman by the end of the year, ensuring a smooth transition and continued positive momentum for the company.
“My goal in coming to General Motors was to help restore profitability, build a strong market position, and position this iconic company for success,” said Whitacre. “We are clearly on that path. A strong foundation is in place and I am comfortable with the timing of my decision.”
Whitacre, 68, joined GM as chairman of the board on July 10, 2009. On December 1, 2009, he was named chief executive officer. He led the company after it emerged from a historic bankruptcy to become a profitable automaker again.
“Ed Whitacre was exactly what this company needed, at exactly the right time,” said Pat Russo, lead director on the GM board. “He simplified the organization, reshaped the company’s vision, put the right people in place, and brought renewed energy and optimism to GM.”
“Dan Akerson has been actively engaged in and supportive of the key decisions and changes made at the new GM. He brings broad business experience, decisive leadership, and continuity to this role,” said Russo. “The board of directors deeply appreciates the leadership Ed has provided and is pleased with the serious commitment Dan is making to the company. We look forward to his leadership.”
In addition to serving on the GM board since July 2009, Akerson has had a distinguished career in finance as a managing director at the Carlyle Group and in telecommunication, serving as chairman and chief executive officer of XO Communications and at Nextel Communications. He was also chairman and CEO of General Instrument Corp.
“There are remarkable opportunities ahead for the new GM, and I am honored to lead the company through this next chapter,” said Akerson. “Ed Whitacre established a foundation upon which we will continue building a great automobile company.”