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GM Names New Head of Manufacturing in Executive Change-Up

March 1, 2019
A longtime operations leader and the former CEO of an electric vehicle startup take on new roles at the top.

General Motors announced today that it is replacing two top executives, including its executive vice president of global manufacturing.

Gerald Johnson, currently GM’s vice president of North American manufacturing and labor relations, will step into the new role, leading GM’s global manufacturing operations, manufacturing engineer and labor relations organizations. He will be a member of the GM Senior Leadership Team and report to GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.

“Gerald’s passion for the business, strong leadership skills and extensive manufacturing and labor experience will help in our efforts to continue to transform the company, supporting both the core business and future of mobility,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.

Johnson succeeds Alicia Boler Davis, a 25-year-veteran of GM who is leaving “to pursue other interests.”

Johnson has a long career at GM. According to a 2014 profile in the Cleveland Plain Dealer,  he got his start at the automaker at age 18, working as a co-op in the now-closed Fisher Body Plant near Cleveland while he attended college at Kettering University. He earned a master’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Before helming GM’s North American manufacturing, Johnson was vice president of operational excellence at GM, where he led a cultural transformation focusing on process discipline, continuous improvement and eliminating waste.

In addition, GM announced today that Barry Engle, executive vice president and president, GM International, will succeed Alan Batey as executive vice president and president, North America. Batey is retiring after 40 years with GM.

Engle, who has held a variety of leadership roles at GM, previously spent 13 years with Ford Motor Company. He then, in succession, became president and CEO of New Holland Agricultural Equipment, the CEO of electric vehicle startup THINK and the CEO of private Tier 1 Supplier Agility Fuel Systems.

About the Author

Laura Putre | Senior Editor, IndustryWeek

I work with IndustryWeek's contributors and report on leadership and the automotive industry as they relate to manufacturing. Got a story idea? Reach out to me at [email protected]


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