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March 3, 2010

US: Whitacre shakes up GM sales and marketing operations

In a move seen as evidence that GM's board wants speedier progress, the company has shaken up its sales and marketing operations.

In a move seen as evidence that GM’s board wants speedier progress, the company has shaken up its sales and marketing operations.

The new structure also involves more reshuffling of top managers, something that GM chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre has not shied away from since he replaced Fritz Henderson as CEO late last year.

The reorganisation mainly focuses on the separation of sales and marketing into two units reporting to  GM North America president Mark Reuss.

Susan Docherty, formerly GM’s VP vice president of US sales and marketing, will now head only marketing, and Steve Carlisle, who ran GM’s Southeast Asia operations, was named VP of US sales. Both will report to Reuss, who said that the new structure eliminates a layer of management between him and the customer.

“It’s become extremely clear to me since taking this role that there is a better way to structure this organisation,” said Reuss.

“The premise of the structure is simple – a clearer marketing focus to sell more vehicles, and freeing our sales and service experts to focus on customers and dealers.

“In order to be successful in North America, we need the right mix of product, people and structure,” Reuss added. “We’ve worked with a small group of executives to align this model and appoint the best candidates for each job.”

Reuss said the structure will allow people to focus exclusively on dealers and sales, while others will focus on marketing.

“We have got to accelerate success in North America,” Reuss told reporters on a conference call.

The details – GM North America marketing structure:Susan Docherty has been appointed vice president, US marketing, reporting directly to Reuss. Working under Docherty are three marketing vice presidents with brand specific roles. These are:

  • Jim Campbell, US marketing vice president, Chevrolet
  • Don Butler, US marketing vice president, Cadillac
  • John Schwegman, US marketing vice president, Buick-GMC.

Don Butler has rejoned  the company from INRIX. John Schwegman was most recently Chevrolet product marketing director.

GM North America sales structure:GMs brands sales are now headed up by Alan Batey, VP sales and service, Chevrolet; Brian Sweeney US sales and service vice president, Buick-GMC; and Kurt McNeil, US sales and service vice president, Cadillac. All report into Reuss directly.

Batey was formerly president and managing director of GM’s Holden operations in Australia. According to GM a replacement at Holden will be named at a later date. McNeil was previously general sales manager, Chevrolet.

GM also announced that Bryan Nesbitt was leaving Cadillac to return to the advanced concept group as executive director, reporting to Ed Welburn, vice president, global design.

Steve Carlisle (executive director, GM South East Asia Operations, and president, managing director, GM Thailand) has been appointed vice president, US sales operations, responsible for dealer network, retail sales support and fleet & commercial. Positions reporting into Carlisle include Jim Bunnell, general director, network support; Brian Small, general manager, fleet & commercial; and a general manager for retail sales support to be named at a later date.

Carlisle’s former posts in South East Asia will be replaced by Martin Apfel, who will report to Tim Lee, president of GM International Operations. Apfel was most recently executive director of global manufacturing and planning.

Commenting on the new sales structure, Reuss added: “This structure has been developed with as few layers as possible between me, the dealer and the customer. By removing layers and giving leaders increased accountability, we allow them to move faster and focus on what needs to be done.”

Other changes:Outside of sales and marketing Reuss announced further managerial changes:

New appointments reporting into Reuss include:

  • Chris Preuss, vice president and president, OnStar. Preuss was most recently vice president, communications, reporting to Ed Whitacre. Preuss succeeds Walt Dorfstatter, who will assume an executive director role in global product operations. A replacement for Preuss will be named at a later date.
  • Kevin Williams, president and managing director, GM Canada. Most recently, Williams was responsible for leading service & parts operations (SPO). He succeeds Arturo Elias, who will take a position in the company’s public policy center, reporting to John Montford, senior advisor, public policy.
  • Steve Hill, general manager, GM customer care and aftersales. Most recently Hill was general manager, retail sales support.

Executives remaining in their current positions include Grace Lieblein, president and managing director, GM de Mexico; Diana Tremblay, vice president, manufacturing and labor relations; and Chuck Stevens, chief financial officer for North America.

Mary Sipes returns to portfolio planning as executive director, North American product planning, a key interface to the global engineering and product development organisations. In this position, she reports to Jon Lauckner, vice president global product planning. Sipes was previously executive director, corporate planning.

The North American team is also supported with executives from key functions including human resources, legal, information technology, and communications.

“This is my team. Leaders with exceptional talent from around the world, combined with strategic thinking from outside. They are the right team for GM North America now, hand-picked and put in place to win,” concluded Reuss.

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