GM rearranging Global Leadership Team with Nesbitt appointment
Fact is, global bias will be the key to future success for GM as it will be for every other auto manufacturer.
This latest rearrangement of personnel affects GM’s Global Design organization. According the GM news release, Bryan Nesbitt, executive director – North American Exterior Design and Global Architecture Strategy, is appointed vice president of GMIO Design.
Nesbitt will relocate to Shanghai, China, and serve as the lead voice for Design in the GMIO region as well as serve as the “Brand Champion” for Wuling and Baojun.
This decision means, Ken Parkinson, currently Vice President of GMIO Design, will repatriate to the United States and become Executive Director, North American Exterior Design and Global Architecture. In addition, Parkinson will serve as the “Brand Champion” for Chevrolet.
“This alignment will continue to position GM’s Global Design organization to provide the company with a compelling vision for future vehicle designs and the excellent execution of GM products,” said Ed Welburn, GM vice president, Global Design.
The moves are effective August 1. The rest of GM’s Global Design organization remains unchanged.
Torque News Assessment
Design in the mind of those who watch GM from afar usually just involves the style of the vehicle. Truth is, it involves much more than that, like the coordination of product across national boundaries. Engineering know-how has or should have as much importance globally as body style and interior flair, in my opinion.
No doubt Mr. Nesbitt had the attention of Bob Lutz when he brought him from Chrysler to GM. His first program, I believe, was the Chevy HHR because he already had experience with the PT Cruiser at Chrysler.
On a personal note, I found Mr. Nesbitt barely cordial in the halls of Design Center except among his own level within management. He reminded me of naval officers who didn’t like fraternizing with the enlisted men. That is so far different than Lutz who was a Marine officer. He would at least nod, and give recognition by saying hello once in a while. My respect for Lutz runs deep.
Still, Nesbitt is young; he has the talent and obviously the trust of Ed Welburn; unless I’m totally misreading the move, and they want to get Nesbitt out of Warren for a while, or until he grows up in the way GM wants him to grow. He already spent time in Europe, and that experience likely had a major part in GM's decision.
On the technical front, I doubt Nesbitt will be involved in the power train decisions, just design. Yet, in my mind, design must be cognizant of power trains and their effect on global product performance. Point is, it's huge.
I realize design and style get people into a car; and there has to be coordination globally. However, so does MPG and green powerplants. The world is not as big as it used to be; meaning, the problems of financial burdens are everywhere. Management types at GM fail in understanding and compassion for financial struggles except their own, in my opinion. Only when that changes might we get high tech at prices we can truly afford.
This is where youth tends to be arrogant at times, as my old mentor, Mike Kaiser, once told me, “Frank, youth is wasted on the young.” I was young at the time; at least compared to him. Having grown up among many elders, though, I at least learned to listen when wisdom was speaking.
Still, youth has its own vision, and elders sometimes fail to realize their own dreams lack appeal to the next generation. And perhaps that’s what GM needs - new visions of the future from the likes of people like Nesbitt. For sure, there needs to be balance to the force. But first things first; GM needs Nesbitt to mature his world view if he ever expects to rise within GM ranks.
On the practical side, with gasoline prices not going back to the $2-$3 range in America anytime soon (if ever), design working in concert with engineering is now more important than ever. How you do that without at the very least being personable in the hallway with the enlisted personnel is beyond me, but I do have a simple solution. With all respect to Nesbitt's many talents, perhaps a tour of duty in the military would be a better assignment. It tends to bring focus to what's important in life.
About the Reporter: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now trades stocks, futures and writes articles, books and ebooks like, "Perfecting Corporate Character," "Awaken Your Speculator Mind", and "Millennial World Order" via authorfrank.com. He may be contacted here by email: [email protected]
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