General Motors names Tim Solso as non-executive chairman

Article by Anita Panait, on January 2, 2014

Tim Solso will be the incoming non-executive chairman of General Motors starting January 15, 2014. The position will be somewhat relatively new for GM, since it has not had a non-executive chairman in almost 20 years. Solso's appointment didn't come as surprise for those who know him, especially those who were with him at Cummins Inc., where he became its chief executive in 2001.

To solve Cummins' problems, Solso terminated one of the company's two US heavy-duty engine platforms under development, even though the company had already spent almost three years and tens of millions of dollars on it. Jean Blackwell, who was then a vice president at Cummins, remarked that the move was decisive one since an engine platform is considered a sacred cow.

Blackwell added that Solso was able to create the right cost structure at Cummins. The situation at the engine maker was similar to post-bankruptcy GM, which had to do away with a bloated cost structure and refocus its efforts on the customer.

GM's board sees Solso as a steady hand that will complement capable yet still green new leaders, two people familiar with the directors' thinking told Automotive News. Solso's term starts along with incoming GM CEO Mary Barra and incoming president Dan Amman. Former colleagues say Solso, is more of a visionary than hands-on, adding that he is straightforward but lacks the elegance and smooth talk of most CEOs. [source: General Motors]

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