The latest management changes installed by CEO Dan Akerson reflect his aim to intensify GM's focus on leading technologies. Akerson went against convention with his choice of a new product chief. Tom Stephens, 62, who replaced retired product chief Bob Lutz in 2009, was named GM's first global chief technology officer.
Notably, Akerson has been focusing on this area since he became CEO last September. Meanwhile, Mary Barra, 49 years old, a former global head of manufacturing engineering and currently GM's human resources chief, will take over from Stephens as GM's product development boss.
OnStar will be led by Linda Marshall, who will replace Chris Preuss. Marshall has experienced working for Akerson at Nextel Communications Inc.
These changes support Akerson's mantra that GM must win on technology. The appointment of Marshall indicates an urgency to revive OnStar, which has been beaten by Ford's Sync infotainment system when it comes to driver-friendly features.
Stephens' appointment shows Akerson's focus to improve fuel economy through innovations such as the Chevrolet Volt's plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Earlier this month, Akerson spoke at the Automotive News World Congress where he said that the industry is entering a "technological revolution" in vehicle propulsion, which he believes "will drive the success and drive the losers [out] of the next generation." The management changes take effect on Feb. 1. [via autonews - sub. required]