Former CEO Dan Akerson says problems at GM are worse than expected

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 31, 2014

Dan Akerson, former chief executive of General Motors, remarked in an interview with The Detroit News that the delayed ignition switch recall indicates a flawed corporate culture worse than he and other executives had originally recognized. Akerson said in the interview that GM needed a lot of change, adding that lot of “that culture wasn’t where we wanted it to be.”

Akerson remarked that the faulty ignition switch tied to 54 crashes and 13 deaths, was a “clarion call” for a values shift within the carmaker. He said that he thinks the new and the old part of the management team failed to fully realize “how deep some of the problems ran.”

Akerson exited from his coveted post as GM’s CEO in January to care for his wife who has cancer. Before becoming GM’s top honcho, Akerson was a managing director at Carlyle Group. He was then appointed by United States Treasury to GM’s board in 2009.

A year later, he was named as the carmaker’s CEO. Akerson told the News that the US Congress may have provided him more of the benefit of the doubt if he was still at GM’s CEO when the carmaker issued the ignition switch recall, since he was an outsider.

He said that he thought current CEO Mary Barra got treated a bit unfairly since she has been with GM for 30 years, which means she could have changed things. Akerson himself was called by the US Congress during probe of the Chevrolet Volt in 2012 over battery fires.

He was known for dismissing some executives due to ethical reasons during his tenure. Akerson quipped that if he were to testify for the ignition switch recall, he would have told the Congress, “I’ve had a raft of problems every year, and we addressed them straight up and don’t blink and we try to solve them.” [source: DetroitNews.com]

Topics: gm, ceo, dan akerson

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