Last week in Detroit, Akerson told GM’s South Korean union leader that he won’t pull GM out of South Korea. He also said he is unhappy with the Korean union, and that he will bring up the matter this week with South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye, when the “Iron Lady” will visit the U.S. this week.
Companies – or so they say – pay their executives the big bucks to keep them from leaving, or, in corporate-speak to “retain” them. In the case of GM CEO Dan Akerson, they pay him more because he will leave. Nasty people will say “to make him leave.” (Read More…)
Last week, GM CEO Dan Akerson said that GM might move production away from South Korea if tensions with North Korea escalate. Today, Korea labor unions said Akerson is using the crisis as a pretext to gain the upper hand in upcoming labor talks. (Read More…)
In his book Car Guys vs. Bean Counters, GM’s best-known executive, Bob Lutz, describes the task facing newly-appointed CEO Dan Akerson:
“Akerson has inherited a company headed for success… Akerson does not have to “fix the business.” His role is not to run the operations but to set the overall direction, inspire the troops, and make sure the product development momentum continues… Akerson’s largest contribution could be to become the respected and liked spokesman, the personification of General Motors. Making GM more open, more human, more accessible and more likable is the last, great unfinished task.”
Lutz knows of what he speaks: after all, he was long the likable, humanizing public face of GM’s upper management. More importantly, he established the revamped product development system that has produced GM’s most competitive lineup in the modern era. However, Lutz knew and knows cars and the car business. Akerson knows how the telephone works. (Read More…)
In the first part of this series, we looked at Dan Akerson’s problematic relationship with the truth, focusing on the gap between his stated intentions and his actions. Akerson is hardly the only example of an auto executive to indulge in personal myth-building or ego-driven dissembling. Analysts, employees and shareholders can forgive all kinds of personal shortcomings in a chief executive so long as he has a clear plan for success and the proven ability to get results. Unfortunately for GM, Dan Akerson brings nothing to the table in this regard that might outweigh his negatives.
The depth of Akerson’s strategic failure is nothing short of stunning, encompassing almost every element of GM’s global footprint.
Author’s note: When the government rescued General Motors from certain disaster, it was a chance at a fresh start. A chance to not just slow GM’s half-century of market share loss, but truly return America’s largest automaker to its place of pride. With debts erased, unions tamed and coffers restocked by the government, all things should have been possible. And yet, first under Ed Whitacre and now Dan Akerson, General Motors has consistently failed to live up to its true potential. Only new leadership can give the people of General Motors, to say nothing of the American people, an automaker they can be truly proud of.
Like every individual, every organization wants to present its best face to the world; it’s why the PR business exists, and why your 14-year-old daughter spends hours manicuring her Facebook presence. But when the desire to be seen in a positive light becomes too strong, individuals and organizations often end up hurting themselves as much as helping. Put in simple terms: if you misrepresent who and what you are too many times, you lose credibility. This seems to be what is happening to GM’s CEO, Dan Akerson. (Read More…)
Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee held a hearing to look into executive compensation “at bailed-out firms that is egregiously out of line with what the President committed to the American people,” as Chairman Jim Jordan said. Jordan recalled that the President had committed “that top executives at firms that receive extraordinary help from U.S. tax payers will have their compensation capped at half a million dollars.” That clearly wasn’t the truth. Yesterday, we heard that GM CEO Dan Akerson, for example, made $9 million in 2012 and wanted $11.1 this year. Jordan said that “Treasury’s failure to protect tax payers is part of a disturbing pattern in which this administration makes promises to the public but the does not live up to them.” That’s not the only pattern that is disturbing. (Read More…)
GM’s CEO Dan Akerson asked for a big raise. He thinks his work at GM is worth a paycheck of $11.1 million this year, up 20 percent from last year, Reuters reports, citing documents. The embarrassing part: Akerson and GM have to ask its white House sugar daddy for approval.
As part of GM’s government-funded bailout, the salaries of GM executives must be authorized by a special paymaster from the federal government. The request for a raise comes at an inopportune time. (Read More…)
Legs of RenCen executives must be covered with black and blue marks from kicking themselves daily for not unloading Opel when the German government offered to take the sick patient off GM’s hands. A deal, financed with $6 billion courtesy of German tax payers and a little petty cash from Russian bankers would have given GM a little money and an immediate end of the huge losses at Opel. Frankly, nobody in Germany had much hope for an Opel under Magna and the Russians either, it was seen as a hospice where to wheel the sick patient until it dies in silence, a la Saab.
At the last minute, GM changed its mind. Who made the ill-fated decision? Was Akerson for keeping Opel, or for getting rid of it? (Read More…)
One day after GM’s Chief Marketing Executive Joel Ewanick was fired for failing ” to meet the expectations that the company has for its employees,” one day after it was leaked like from a fire hose that there were shady going ons between Ewanick and the Manchester United soccer club, GM signed a seven year contract with just the same soccer club. A day after the ouster of a marketing chief who was tasked with saving billions, GM paid, according to Reuters, “twice as much as the team’s previous automotive sponsor” for putting “Chevrolet” on the team’s jerseys. Does this pass the smell test? (Read More…)
The summary execution of Opel chief Karl-Friedrich Stracke, and the mess this has created, is front page material in the German press today. The fingers point in the direction of Detroit. Detroit has no clear strategy and changes directions like soiled underwear. The fingers also point at an impulsive Dan Akerson who is out of his depth.