As the US automaker is under the rule of the first woman CEO in the industry, Mary Barra, GM also has a new chairman – Theodore “Tim” Solso – a man who seems not to be afraid of taking unpopular decisions.
Solso, 66, was not available for comments, but friends and former co-workers praise him for being ready to make decisions and adopt new directions in an industry known for resisting change. Before joining GM’s board in 2012 he was chairman and CEO of diesel engine maker Cummins, where he accepted the new and tougher emission regulations and even gave new benefits to gay people, although the company resides in a conservative region.
Barra, 52, the auto industry’s first female CEO said she sees Solso weekly – many believe his traits make him a good partner to the new CEO, as inside sources in GM indicated he was selected to bring his extensive experience to an executive team viewed rather “green”.
“He’s a great person to provide insight,” Barra said last month. “It’s clear his role as the nonexecutive chair is to lead the board activities. He’s very clear my job is to lead the company, but he’s also there to bounce strategy off.”
“He’s not going to be a figurehead, but he also understands very well that he’s not the CEO and his job is to ensure Mary is a dang good CEO,” Joe Loughrey, the former president at Cummins under Solso, said of his friend.
GM still faces serious challenges, even though it managed to get rid of the government control in record time and turns out a record profit, unseen since the 2009 bailout.