MORE: Another Day, Another Shakeup at GM: Lutz Reassigned

December 4, 2009

UPDATE: Following this morning's 9 am conference call for GM employees, further details have emerged on the latest shakeup at General Motors.

“I want to give people responsibility and authority deeper in the organization, and then hold them accountable," said chairman of the board Ed Whitacre.

To further that goal, Bob Lutz is to become a "senior adviser" to Whitacre, and new sales chief Susan Docherty will expand her responsibilities to include marketing for Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC, and Buick.

An earlier reorganization had split the marketing and sales functions, to give GM marketers more autonomy to set brand identity, in response to longstanding criticisms that they marketing had become little more than a subservient arm of sales responsible for promoting discounts.

The latest rearrangement  appears to join sales and marketing again.

North American operations are to be led by former vice president of global engineering Mark Reuss. Tom Stevens will become vice chairman for global operations and purchasing, and Karl-Friedrich Stracke has been named vice president of engineering.

A number of women executives received promotions, in addition to Docherty. Diana Trembley was named vice president of manufacturing and labor, and Denise Johnson is the new vice president for labor.

Surprisingly, CFO Ray Young has not yet been replaced despite scathing reviews by the President's Auto Task Force of the performance and accountability of the pre-bankruptcy GM's finance department.

Board member Stephen J. Girsky will also take on an expanded advisory role to Whitacre.

Next Tuesday, Whitacre will provide a business update on GM's operations since its emergence from bankruptcy.

EARLIER STORY: GM insiders and news reports confirmed this morning that employees at the beleaguered automaker will listen in to a 9 am (Eastern) conference call in which further management shakeups will be revealed.

The news follows the surprise Tuesday resignation of CEO Fritz Henderson, which was announced by GM board chairman Ed Whitacre in a conference call on the eve of the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Henderson had been scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the LA Auto Show, but was replaced on less than a day's notice by vice chairman and marketing head Bob Lutz.

He's the GM executive who shook up the product development process and is credited with such highly regarded vehicles as the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan and 2010 Chevrolet Camaro sports coupe.

Now, apparently, it's the 77-year-old 78-year-old Lutz's turn to be reassigned.  He will return to a role within product development, but Whitacre's new organizational structure--drawn up in four hours, apparently--will reflect his desire to promote "younger managers".

No more dramatic resignations are expected, but once more, General Motors executives will be given new assignments and their reporting structures will be changed.

Susan Docherty

Susan Docherty

[GM Media, Automotive News (subscription required) Wall Street Journal, and others]

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