DETROIT Jan 23 General Motors Co's North
American president, Mark Reuss, was considered for the top job
at the U.S. automaker in 2010 before his lack of seasoning led
the board to the current chief executive, Dan Akerson, according
to an excerpt from a forthcoming book by GM's former CEO, Ed
As GM, which restructured in bankruptcy with the help of a
$50 billion U.S. taxpayer bailout, moved toward its fall 2010
initial public offering, Whitacre told the board he would not
continue as CEO. His idea for his replacement was Reuss,
according to the excerpt published on Wednesday by Fortune
"Mark had zoomed up the executive chain in record time; he
went from midlevel engineer to the No. 2 person in the company
in the space of a year, more or less," Whitacre said of Reuss.
"The plus was that Mark was showing a lot of poise and
management potential. The downside was that he hadn't been in
the job long enough to prove himself as a CEO."
Whitacre's book, "American Turnaround: Reinventing AT&T and
GM and the Way We Do Business in the USA," is scheduled to be
published early next month.
GM announced Whitacre's exit in August 2010, and Akerson
assumed leadership of the Detroit company the following month.
Reuss declined to comment on Whitacre's book.
GM said the comments were Whitacre's and the company was
focused on the future.
"General Motors is now a company guided by new leadership
and employees who value the customer first in everything we do,"
company spokesman Greg Martin said in an email.
"We're grateful for Ed's leadership during a difficult
transition for the company," he added. "It's important that we
not forget the lessons of our recent past, but it's even more
important that we keep our full attention and energy on building
great cars and trucks and creating sustained profitability and
Reuss, 49, is perceived by some Wall Street analysts and GM
insiders as a potential heir apparent to Akerson. Other possible
successors are Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, Chief Financial
Officer Dan Ammann and global product development chief Mary
Akerson, 64, has not given a timeline for his retirement.
Whitacre said GM's board in 2010 discussed its options,
weighing the idea of a nonexecutive chairman working with Reuss
or another candidate while they gathered more seasoning on the
job. The board was split, however.
"Some people thought a nonexecutive chairman wasn't a bad
idea," Whitacre said. "Other people really didn't care. A few
didn't like the idea at all.
"One thing everybody agreed on: Mark had a lot of
potential," Whitacre added. "The only concern was his short time
in the job. If we asked him to step into the CEO's job, and it
didn't work out, that would be a disaster for Mark - and an even
bigger disaster for GM. The company needed stability. The
revolving door in the CEO's suite had to stop. At this point Dan
Akerson volunteered to do the job."
Whitacre said Akerson wanted to be chairman and CEO from the
"He had no interest in being a nonexecutive chairman, or a
split title. I could certainly understand, because that's what I
would have wanted if I'd been in his shoes," Whitacre said.
"When Dan put his hand up, that took care of the problem,"
Whitacre said. "Not very elegant, I will admit. But that's how
it played out."