By on July 17, 2012

How would you feel if you start your new job and people greet you by speculating who will replace you? This is how Thomas Sedran must feel. Only hours after he has been made the new interim CEO of Opel, German media speculates who will be next in his ejection seat in Rüsselsheim. The roster of likely candidates is not encouraging.

The always well-informed Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (it had called Sedran’s promotion correctly) offers a shortlist of likely managers. All are past their use-by date.

  • One is Rainer Schmückle, the former Daimler Manager who was replaced by Wolfgang Bernhard in 2010. Schmückle has a reputation for alienating the works council. Two years ago, Schmückle already had refused the offered CEO job at Opel.
  • Another is the former Continental CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann. After leaving Conti, he was made head of Volkswagen’s China business.  He lost that job during a recent management reshuffle, and was shunted to running Skoda, Volkswagen’s spent fuel pond for formerly hot executives.
  • The last option offered by the FAZ is infamous Wendelin Wiedeking. Nuff said.

Reuters offers an unexpected candidate. A banker told Reuters that “the head of the European car parts suppliers association CLEPA, Jean-Marc Gales, could be a strong external candidate to replace Stracke. The Luxembourg native speaks fluent French and German and knows both companies intimately, having worked as Opel sales chief and most recently as head of both the Peugeot and Citroen brands.”

In the meantime, a list of former Opel CEOs is making the rounds in Germany. It won’t make the talent scouting easier.


Die Opel-Chefs seit 1948 im Überblick:

– Edward W. Zdunek 01.11.1948 – 28.02.1961

– Nelson J. Stork 01.03.1961 – 01.03.1966

– L. Ralph Mason 01.03.1966 – 30.09.1970

– Alexander A. Cunningham 01.10.1970 – 31.01.1974

– John P. Mc Cormack 01.02.1974 – 29.02.1976

– James F. Waters, jr. 01.03.1976 – 31.08.1980

– Robert C. Stempel 01.09.1980 – 05.02.1982

– Ferdinand Beickler 05.02.1982 – 31.01.1986

– Dr. Horst W. Herke 01.02.1986 – 31.03.1989

– Louis R. Hughes 01.04.1989 – 03.07.1992

– David J. Herman 04.07.1992 – 18.06.1998

– Cary Cowger 19.06.1998 – 31.10.1998

– Robert W. Hendry 01.11.1998 – 31.03.2001

– Carl-Peter Forster 01.04.2001 – 31.03.2004

– Hans H. Demant 01.04.2004 – 15.01.2009

– David N. (Nick) Reilly 15.01.2009 – 08.04.2011

– Karl-Friedrich Stracke 11.04.2011 – 12.07.2012

– Steve Girsky 12.07.2012 – 17.07.2012

– Thomas Sedran 17.07.2012 – ???




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14 Comments on “Opel CEO Du Jour: Who’s Next?...”

  • avatar

    I have a radical answer.. Nobody.

    Opel is a black hole and the Union / political rules prevent GM from shutting it down, so it’s time to cut the losses.

    Fire / let quit all of the non-union employees and let the union folks do whatever they want for 40 hours per week with full/normal pay and benefits.

    If the German government calls to ask questions, just refer them to the CEO of Opel.

  • avatar

    Marissa Mayer, the new CEO du jour at Yahoo.

  • avatar

    Tough love via a big ax is needed. Europe needs to address over capacity. It will not be a pretty site.

  • avatar

    Why are “failed” VW executives sent to Skoda? Skoda seems to be doing OK from a sales perspective (and reputation in the UK at least). So maybe the executives are not that bad!
    Wouldn`t SEAT make a better destination for them?

  • avatar

    Maybe GM should just go for the biggest name they can find. I suggest Arnold Schwarzenegger. In addition to huge name recognition, he has executive experience dealing with multi-billion dollar deficits!

    • 0 avatar

      I like it, or give it to one of the many washed up stars of the “The Expendables”. I’m sure Van Damme would return their calls.

      • 0 avatar

        Does Van Damme speak German? We know Arnold can, and anyway, his movies made more money. If former GM chief Whitacre could make commercials, Arnold would be a natural as the top dog pitching Opels. Picture him saying, “These are good cars for the money – I know: I run the company!” People will flock to Opel showrooms! It’s all about public perceptions creating sales and profits, a proven strategy, versus trying to break even by cutting costs, which rarely works.

      • 0 avatar

        Can Van Damme speak German? We know Arnold can, and anyway, Arnold’s movies made more money. Plus, if GM’s former CEO Whitacre could make commercials, Arnold would be a natural. He’s probably actually driven a few Opels.

        The cost cutting in a down market isn’t going to work, so why not try punching up sales with a CEO salesman who is well-known? They say you have to spend money to make money, and Opel needs to freshen its inexpensive base models with simpler lines and interiors with higher quality basic materials.

        Then Arnold can sell Opel as the durable, reliable, honest value that Opel was known for, saying, “Opel is good value for the money – I know, I run the company!” I tell you, customers will flock to Opel showrooms.

  • avatar

    Wendelin Wiedeking would be my favorite. If he’s successful he might buy up the whole of GM, all problems solved.

  • avatar

    “Skoda, Volkswagen’s spent fuel pond for formerly hot executives.”

    Hey that’s funny!

    The acceleration in CEO turnover reminds of water approaching the drain, it seems to rotate faster just before it goes over the edge…

  • avatar

    Oh man! Wendy! What a great idea!

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Whoever takes this job should ask for her pay to be deposited daily into her bank account. Just to avoid any hard feelings should things not work out.

  • avatar

    Sedran a hokey pokey rented rubber stamp while das fallbeil readies for Opel. Will they sponge the blade between drops?

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