Somewhat overshadowed by the announcement that General Motors (IW 500/5) has named Mary Barra as its first woman CEO is the news that Theodore (Ted) Solso, retired chairman and CEO of Cummins Inc. (IW 500/70) and a recent inductee into the IndustryWeek Hall of Fame, has been named GM's nonexecutive chairman. Both announcements came following current chairman and CEO Dan Akerson's announcement that he plans to retire on January 15, 2014.
Solso, who has served on GM's board of directors since 2012, helped transform Cummins, a manufacturer of diesel engines primarily for trucks, into a world leader in the "clean and green" movement through his championing of stricter carbon emission standards. He is also well known for his insistence on lean and Six Sigma processes to improve quality and eliminate waste.
In an October 2013 interview with IndustryWeek, Solso explained that Six Sigma so permeated the culture of Cummins during his tenure that "if people wanted to be promoted within the company, they either had to be a green belt, a black belt or sponsor three Six Sigma programs. It became in peoples' best interests to get on the Six Sigma bandwagon if they wanted to go forward with the company."
Solso, 66, spent 40 years at Cummins, retiring in 2011.