GM’s latest overhaul


General Motors Co. has shuffled a multitude of product development executives and appointed new heads of global product planning, powertrain engineering and quality in its latest departmental shakeup.

CEO Ed Whitacre was given responsibility for global product planning which was initially held by Tom Stephens, Vice Chairman. . Stephens retains power over product development, including design, engineering and purchasing.

GM announced the changes Friday in a memo to employees obtained by Automotive News. Spokeswomen Sharon Basel and Katie McBride verified the memo’s authenticity and said the moves didn’t involve any employees leaving the organization. This comes after major overhaul in sales and marketing department in recent months.

As part of the changes, Steve Carlisle has become vice president of global product planning, reporting to Whitacre. Carlisle, who has previous experience in GM product planning outside the United States and in GM’s truck group, had been vice president of U.S. sales operations since March.

He replaces Jon Lauckner, who had led product planning since August. GM said earlier Friday that Lauckner would head its new venture capital unit, reporting to Vice Chairman Steve Girsky.

Carlisle’s role in sales has gone to Don Johnson, who will report to Mark Reuss, president of GM North America.

Dan Hancock, GM’s vice president of global powertrain engineering since 2005, has moved into the newly created position of vice president of global strategic product alliances. He will focus on joint ventures and report to Stephens, who heads global product operations.

Jamie Hresko has replaced Hancock and make regular reports to Stephens. Hresko, an electrical engineer by training, had been vice president of global quality since September 2008 and held a variety of manufacturing positions before that.

Dan Nicholson, formerly executive director of electronic integration and software, has replaced Hresko. He will report to Stephens.

Kent Helfrich has taken over Nicholson’s job.

The shakeup follows a restructuring in March involving more than a dozen GM sales and marketing executives. Last month, GM continued those changes by snagging Hyundai’s Joel Ewanick from his weeks-long stint at Nissan North America and putting him responsible for U.S. marketing.

His predecessor, Susan Docherty, is transferring to GM’s Shanghai office to head sales and marketing for GM’s operations outside the United States and Europe.

In the memo describing this week’s personnel changes, Stephens said GM is also seeking to simplify its product-development process. So GM is reducing the number of reviews each vehicle gets by GM’s Global Product Development Council, including Stephens, his direct reports and top executives from the global region that will get the vehicle.

That committee will only review each product four times during its development. That’s “about a third” fewer times than before, spokeswoman McBride said. The iidea is to hold lower-tier executives accountable for decision-making, she said.

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