By on March 2, 2011

GM’s upper management is shaking again, as the Detroit Free Press reports that Jamie Hresko, The General’s global powertrain boss, has left the building. And unlike the last round of management shuffling, this move doesn’t seem to have been planned. The Freep reports:

Hresko’s departure comes about a month after CEO Dan Akerson took the product-development organization from powertrain engineer Tom Stephens and put most of it under Mary Barra, a manufacturing engineer. Stephens, a GM vice chairman, became chief technology officer and retained responsibilities for research and development. But Hresko’s resignation was his decision and not part of a management shakeup, a person familiar with the situation said.

As a 28-year veteran of GM who previously held top positions in US and Global quality departments, Hresko’s resignation is not inconsequential. Especially given his lack of post-GM plans. GM’s auto industry experience-free CEO Dan Akerson now has one less experienced advisor to rely on… or is that one less recalcitrant insider to fight?

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24 Comments on “GM Powertrain Boss Quits...”

  • avatar

    Don’t what to think. If the direct injected ECOTEC turbos, the VVT 3.6 V6, and LS series engine are under his watch – this is a loss.

    If the Elsmere 3.0 V6 disaster, 1.8 ECOTEC, Iron Duke, 3.4L “high value” V6, and Northstar came from his brain, good riddance!

    • 0 avatar

      Is the VVT 3.6 the one in the Lamda utes? Cause I know quite a few people who’ve had their engines replaced due to broken camshafts (along with headgaskets, and recently stretching timing chains on other 3.6 applications) who would highly disagree.

      The LS, absolutely. Great engine.

  • avatar

    So where do I send my résumé?

  • avatar

    LS1-FTL.  Dislike.

  • avatar

    Yeah, I am curious as to why he left and what products he was responsible for.  GM has some good engines out right now and some bad ones.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Recalcitrant insider? Or exasperated realist?

    Is he a rat chased from the ship? Or a man jumping from a burning building?

    Hresko’s been at this 28 years. Akerson, not even 28 weeks.

    We wait to see if this move was a long-time coming, or an abrupt loss. Anyone want to lay some odds here? Or maybe give us an over/under on a GM engineering/manufacturing talent exodus?

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Akerson’s a hard-ass beancounter, but he knows absolutely nothing.

      So a guy who actually knows what he’s talking about, and has the experience to back it up is a dangerous person. I think he was forced out by Dan, and is getting a package under the table to shut up and stay out.

  • avatar

    I don’t know the guy and I don’t know the circumstances but GM’s Powertrain strategy of late seems to be all over the road.
    2 different options for Cruze (and a choice btw slow and slower), the issues with the 3.0Turbo in the SRX, the truck motors are now the oldest in the segment while the LS is loved…how many are really going out the door vs. the expense?

  • avatar

    Things are STILL not right at GM.
    It seemed like maybe they had changed their ways, cleaned the proper house post-bankruptcy, and were on the right path.  Lately, it seems the wrong people are being promoted/quitting/getting fired, the wrong people are still at the top of the organization, the product lines are getting bloated again (Buick), other parts of the product line are lacking new investment (Cadillac, engines), and they’re relying more on stupid accounting games, rebates, fleet sales,etc.
    I honestly, for a little while, thought that maybe it was finally over.  Much like it seems to mostly be a lot better at Ford, but I’m getting more and more disappointed.
    No GM fan-boy, glad to see something like the Volt come out of America, wanting the American auto industry to succeed based on good products, good prices, and good quality and not silly games.  It seems like maybe Ford is the only one on the right path, and GM is (AGAIN) moving in the wrong direction.
    I can’t figure it out.  Its like it is 90% right, 90% there, but they just never seem to be able to get that last bit.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Buick “bloated”?

      Buick currently has 3 cars (LaCrosse, Regal, & Verano) and 1 CUV (Enclave), plus the old Lucerne. That’s a total of 5 models, and barely enough to be considered a “normal” brand.

      The Lucerne which should be replaced by a Park Avenue, and a “baby Enclave” is coming, so that’d be a grand total of 6 models giving a full range of sedans with a couple crossovers in lieu of wagons.

      To round things out, Buick could even add a full-size Riviera coupe and a Volt-based 4-door Electra to the mix, and they’d still be fine. A that point, they’d simply be a “full line” of stylish, larger cars & CUVs. Sure, there’d be some product overlap in the sedans, but they’d wear different sheetmetal, with different tuning and options. Not a problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      4-door Volt-based Electra. Best modernization/adaptation of historic nameplate to current technology I’ve seen in…forever. That right there would get you promoted if you were on the Buick brand team.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Thanks, DH. It’s so obvious, one has to imagine Buick will do it.

      But with Akerson in charge, who knows???

  • avatar

    Does the LS still get built by Mercury Marine?

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Hresko has had numerous assignments within various parts of GM. Prior to coming back to Powertrain recently, he was GM North America Vice President for quality. His assignment as Powertrain Engineering VP is quite recent so he has had essentially no responsibility for the product wins or failures mentioned, at least not in the sense implied by the comments.

    He was well respected, but there are plenty of very talented folks to take his place. He may have simply been angered when Barra got the job he thought was his, although that is purely my conjecture. We may find out soon that he had a better offer somewhere else.

    The Stephens move was concerning, but only time will tell how the Product Development function is effected by leadership changes. The company’s goal has long been to develop systems of operation so that outcome is not so personality dependent.

    A few years ago, we hired a retired Toyota top Exec to help GM improve quality. He said that Toyota had mediocre people in a brilliant system, while GM had brilliant people in a mediocre system. The lesson is that a good system is far more important than individual personalities. GM has been working hard  to develop and implement brilliant systems to complement the talented people.

    • 0 avatar

      @doctor olds……So nice to read a comment, from an informed source.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      “Only 4-5% of the problems faced by an institution are personel problems, the remaining 95% are problems within the system.” – W. Edwards Deming – pioneer of a “continuous improvement approach” to business.

      Toyota’s cars weren’t great because they had the “best” people.  Toyota’s cars were great because they had a great system.  Work on the “system” GM. 

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Educator Dan- Great post! GM Powertrain leadership embraced Deming and his quality philosophy over 20 years ago. There was a big push to get a “critical mass” of employees trained so that his ideas would become institutionalized. A conference center in the Powertrain Engineering HQ building is named after him in recognition of his stature. GM Powertrains rank at the top of quality surveys such as JD Power, in no small part due to the teachings of Doctor Deming. I had the chance to participate in a live seminar with Deming himself. He was quite a guy!   

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      We’ve been pushing Deming’s philosophies and methodology with my school system for almost 6 years now.  The changes are slow but we’re building momentum.

      “Change is optional, so is survival.” – W. Edwards Deming

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