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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blog - Liddell - motor man could fix our city (Drivetalk)

Liddell - motor man could fix our city

Last updated 13:34 11/03/2011
The news that New Zealand born GM chief financial officer Chris Liddell, who has presided over arguably the most complete industrial and fiscal turnaround in automotive history, is now at a loose end, having resigned from his post this week, has me thinking. What an opportunity to get him to fix Christhurch.

Liddell is the man who managed to guide General Motors to profit for the first time since 2004 and led its successful public share offer. He is to step down on April 1 after just 15 months in the position.

Under Liddell, GM posted four straight profitable quarters and started to fix accounting troubles that had hurt it for decades.

It's largely thought that his next step at GM would have been to move into the CEO's position, but that would probably have been years away.

Perhaps he could take the job of looking after the rebuilding of Christchurch instead, as he would appear to be the kind of visionary character - without pre-conceptions - the city could do with. 

Liddell, formerly the CFO of Microsoft, was always considered a candidate to succeed chief executive Ed Whitacre, though GM's board instead picked current chairman and CEO Dan Akerson when Whitacre left last August.

Liddell has no job in the offiing, but having managed to star at Microsoft and GM in quick succession in difficult times, could he be the leader we need to drive Christchurch to its new future? After all, he joined both Microsoft and General Motors on the strength of a reputation as a problem solver.

So well thought of was Liddell that GM's shares dropped 85 cents, or 2.6 per cent, on Thursday to below the initial public offering price in November of US$33. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 209 points, or 1.7 per cent.

I wonder if Bob Parker could persuade the man to take a huge drop in salary for the challenge to drive the turnaround of an even bigger basket case than General Motors was not so long ago?


Brent   #1   01:40 pm Mar 11 2011

How about as head of transrail... theres a company that needs a real turnaround. Not that they could afford him, I would say...
swisskiwi   #2   01:43 pm Mar 11 2011

and how exactly can NZ afford Mr. Liddell's services?
Kimeez   #3   01:46 pm Mar 11 2011

Dave, a very interesting and valid proposition. The silver lining to this horror is the opportunity to revamp Christchurch and re-brand it as THE 21st Century city. It makes perfect sense to woo creative visionaries, such as Liddell, to partake in the design and help the Christchurch Phoenix rise to new heights.
ScrabbleChick   #4   02:37 pm Mar 11 2011

After working at GM, I'd say Liddell could take on Christchurch, TranzRail AND Fonterra (after Andrew Ferrier leaves later this year) and still only work four days a week. Of course we could only pay him a tiny fraction of his former remuneration so we'd have to appeal to his patriotism and desire for work/life balance. How can he refuse???
Anna   #5   02:46 pm Mar 11 2011

this is the best idea I have heard re: the rebuild of chch so far. brilliant. This is the man to do it, not a politician. And in regards to money - in the long run chch cannot afford to not have somebody like this at the helm. Perhaps they can cash in the government's new BMW's to pay for him?
John   #6   03:21 pm Mar 11 2011

Woah, lets hold our horses here. This man's claim to fame leave me wondering. Mr Liddell is not mentioned at all in Business Week's recent article on GM's rejuvenation - many others are. Four successive quarters of GM's success only equals one year, a good start, scarcely touches the write-offs of old and can hardly be attributed to one person - much less this one. Methinks there is more here than meets the eye.
Alan Wilkinson   #7   03:21 pm Mar 11 2011

Great thinking, Dave! Exactly, we need someone outstanding and inspirational for this job with the Government 200% behind him.
Please, please, John Key give this idea serious thought and impetus.
John   #8   03:26 pm Mar 11 2011

I wonder if others have already thought of this (like Bob Parker or John Key). It seems like a no-brainer to me. Surely we can afford him. When you are dealing with many billions his salary isn't that great whatever it is.
Chris   #9   06:12 pm Mar 11 2011

You must be joking, he was an absolute disaster at Carter Holt Harvey and the country was lucky he left.
Pete   #10   06:16 pm Mar 11 2011

Great idea! Christchurch is going to need people like this to get back on its feet.

Tony   #11   06:44 pm Mar 11 2011
Great Idea! Just the sort of man to sort through all the b/s and get a city rebuilt and become a shining example for others to follow. I worked for CHH when he led that & he does not suffer fools....beware Historic Places trust loonies, Green Party cardie wearers and council committee dwellers - you should start looking for a new job if he gets the role!
bob   #12   09:41 pm Mar 11 2011
Yeah, because rebuilding a shattered city is exactly the same as pumping up the stock value of a multinational corporation.
bob   #13   08:13 am Mar 12 2011
Tony - you forgot 'disabled lesbian teachers' on your list :-/

Alan Wilkinson   #14   09:36 am Mar 12 2011
Comments like bob's do make you think some New Zealanders are so brainlessly not worth bothering with that emigration is an attractive option.

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