New GM Chairman Edward Whitacre Jr. is "not a car guy"
“I don’t know anything about cars.”
Those were the words of newly-appointed General Motors Chairman Edward Whitacre, Jr. when asked about the challenges he’s facing, charged with infusing some new life into General Motors.
Hardly comforting, don’t you think?
To be fair to the man, it’s not as if he’s a fish out of water in the business world. After all, he’s solely responsible for elevating the status of AT&T as a telecommunications giant. So maybe he doesn’t know the ins-and-outs of the auto industry, but judging from his track record, we ought to cut him some slack and see if he can do for GM what he has already done for AT&T. When you talk to Mr. Whitacre, the newly appointed GM Chairman doesn’t see his lack of knowledge on cars as a burden, but – as expected – a challenge.
"A business is a business, and I think I can learn about cars. I’m not that old, and I think the business principles are the same."
Continued after the jump.
The former AT&T chief has at least one former GM bigwig at his side. Jim Hall, a former GM engineer and now a 2953 Analytics principal said: "He was one of the guys who helped create a new AT&T that wasn’t so dependent on land-line phone service. T here’s a parallel with General Motors. GM is not now about just making cars. It’s about re-creating itself as a 21st-century car company. They have to have somebody at the top that understands they have to make a new GM."
For the sake of General Motors, let’s just hope that Edward Whitacre, Jr. is up to the task. Judging from his track record, it’s safe to say that he just might be the right man for the job.