GM's Latest Exec Shake-up Shows Akerson's Urgency

If you thought the shake-up in the ranks of General Motors would slow down with the company now turning a profit, think again.

Daniel Akerson, Managing Director of The Carlyle Group
Daniel Akerson, Managing Director of The Carlyle Group

This week, CEO Dan Akerson announced a slew of new appointments with executives, the most notable being the appointment of Mary Barra to run global product development. Barra is a GM veteran who came up through the product engineering side of the business who most recently served as vice president, Global Human Resources.

I can already see the e-mails coming from critics who will say, "The new GM is moving a lot of executives in and out of jobs, but how do we know if these people will be the right people?"

You don't know. And really, nobody will know until we see some results, good or bad, from the various positions. But Akerson and his leadership team aren't waiting to make moves. And in some cases, the people now in key spots or running important divisions are paying off.

Mark Reuss, who now runs GM North America is a perfect example. When Reuss was put in the job, many in the industry questioned if he would be the right guy to grow GM's business in the U.S. Over the last six months, many of the same doubters (most from outside GM) now tell me they see the impact Reuss is having. They say, sometimes begrudgingly, that Reuss is moving GM North America in the right direction.

If he wasn't, he wouldn't be around.

That is what is defining GM under Dan Akerson. He is pushing the company to move faster, make changes quicker, and to beat the competitors to the punch. Are they succeeding across the board? No. But Akerson knows they don't have time to waste. Ford and Hyundai are now setting the pace in the industry and Akerson wants GM to not just keep up, but to beat them.

So expect more of the musical chairs at GM. It is all part of Akerson's broader plan to change the culture at GM.

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