GM CEO Dan Akerson might be in another one of his battles with the truth.
In a softballed interview with Fortune, GM’s CEO Dan Akerson said that he was suddenly and surprisingly drafted to lead GM as if it was time to go to war. “This was a call to service for me,” said Akerson, as he wrapped himself in a red, white, and blue flag and regaled interviewer Geoff Colvin with stories from the U.S. Naval Academy. Akerson makes the CEO job sound like a hardship post:
“It was somewhat of a dislocation to me from a personal routine point of view, I had to move. I am sixty-some years old and it’s a little late in life to try to reinvent yourself.”
Hardship or not, Dan Akerson followed the call to duty, even if he “wasn’t expecting it.”
The Wall Street Journal says that it was Akerson who applied for the job, and that he used personal connections to get it:
“His path to GM began about two years ago. A former Naval Academy engineering student and ship officer (he ran the ship’s power plant), he was at Carlyle in 2009 leading the global buyout unit. But he had followed GM’s troubles closely, and, hoping to get on its board, spoke to a colleague who knew the Treasury Department’s GM point person, Ron Bloom.”
The colleague, David Marchick, described Mr. Akerson to the Treasury man as a “tough-as-nails, no-B.S. conservative Republican.” To his surprise, Mr. Bloom responded: “He’s perfect.”
Well, maybe the Wall Street Journal got it wrong. Certainly, the U.S. Navy Alumni Association must have had its story straight when it wrote:
“On a humid June day in 2009, armies of lawyers were hashing out General Motors’ recent bankruptcy filing in a courtroom without air-conditioning in lower Manhattan. In Washington, Akerson, a managing director of the Carlyle Group, confided to an associate that he’d like to serve on GM’s new board of directors.”
The associate again was David Marchick. He tried to talk Akerson out of it. The job would demand a lot of Akerson’s time. The pay would be much less than at Carlyle. Most of all, Akerson would have to deal with Washington. But Akerson, says the article, “wouldn’t let the idea go:”
“If you’re really serious, I can give Ron a call,” offered Marchick, who had done business with Ron Bloom, the head of Obama’s auto task force. Akerson agreed.”
Also according to this story, Akerson was pitched to auto task force chief Ron Bloom. Also according to this story, Bloom responded: “He sounds perfect.”
The article was reprinted many times. Some sites even swear they had seen the same article in the Detroit Free Press. Where it can’t be found anymore.
These stories don’t jibe with Akerson’s claim that he was called up out of the blue, and that he followed the sudden call of duty, personal inconvenience or not. If the stories don’t jibe, then someone does not tell the truth. You decide who is telling lies.