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GM director Girsky named vice chairman; John Smith to retire

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GM director Girsky named vice chairman; John Smith to retire

Chrissie Thompson

Automotive News -- February 22, 2010 - 5:00 pm ET

DETROIT -- General Motors Co. said board member Steve Girsky, who was critical of GM during his days as a Wall Street analyst, will become vice chairman in charge of corporate strategy and business development on March 1.

In addition, John Smith, GM's group vice president of corporate planning and alliances, will retire at the end of this year.

Girsky has worked for GM as an adviser to CEO Ed Whitacre since Whitacre took over from ousted CEO Fritz Henderson in December. Girsky, 47, also served as an adviser to Rick Wagoner for about a year through mid-2006. Before that, he was an industry analyst with Morgan Stanley who often criticized GM.

He joined the GM board in July, filling the UAW's seat, and will continue to hold that position, GM said.

As vice chairman, Girsky will oversee corporate strategy, business alliances and new business development.

“He is a trusted adviser who has made a major contribution through the company's transition,” Whitacre said in a statement. “We look forward to benefiting from Steve's counsel and insights as we move the company forward.”

Girsky's appointment makes him GM's fourth vice chairman. The others are Bob Lutz, who advises on design and product development; Tom Stephens, who took over from Lutz in April as product development chief; and Chris Liddell, the former Microsoft Corp. CFO who now fills that role at GM.

Smith, a 59-year-old GM lifer, will serve as an adviser to Liddell until the end of the year. Most recently, Smith led efforts to unload the Swedish brand Saab, which GM has agreed to sell to Dutch niche carmaker Spyker Cars NV. He also was lead negotiator on the proposed purchase of Opel by a consortium led by Canadian supplier Magna International. GM’s board later decided to keep Opel.

Smith joined GM in 1968 as a college student at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University). Other past positions include group vice president of global product planning; head of North American sales, service and marketing; and stints within Pontiac, Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac and GM’s Canadian and European operations.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100222/OEM02/100229961/1178#ixzz0gJFlH7Q2

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Apparently "Big Ed" was not finished nor joking.


B.S., in mathematics, University of California; M.B.A., Harvard Business School. Girsky has been following the automotive and tire industries for 14 years. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, he headed PaineWebber's automotive group.

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Leaving of John Smith does not come as surprise. Car and Driver and Motortrend were talking about his departure.

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