Thursday, January 19, 2012

GM Stephens set to retire

 Final the last members of the top-management team linked to the Smith-Wagoner era at General Motors has decided to call it quits. Vice Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Tom Stephens has elected to retire April, GM has announced.
 Stephens, whose career with GM spanned 43 years, has been one of GM's top executives since 2001 when he became group vice president of global powertrain. In 2009, as the company plunged into bankruptcy, Stephens was put in charge of GM's product development and managed to keep critical programs on track as the company re-organized. He stepped aside as product chief in 201, turning the job over to Mary Barra, who was tapped by GM chairman and chief executive offer Dan Akerson for the sensitive post.
In his most recent role as CTO, Stephens led the company’s product technology arm, working to identify and develop advanced technologies for integration in future GM vehicles. He also focused on building closer relationships with external and internal technology partners. A successor to Stephens will be named later, GM officials said.
 Stephens also embodied the professional expertise and broad technical knowledge embedded in the old GM.  With his detailed knowledge of what makers vehicles go, Stephens also could address complicated technical issues in clear, lucid terms, making them understandable for GM's top management and other constituencies.
 “Tom Stephens is an engineering icon within our company and within our industry,” Akerson said.  “We have all benefited greatly from his passion, wisdom, and commitment to product excellence.  His talent and contributions to GM are deeply appreciated and his expertise will be missed.”
Key highlights of Stephens’ career include leading the development of the first Cadillac Northstar engine, GM’s premier dual overhead cam performance engine, which won numerous industry and engine awards. He also spearheaded the creation of GM’s advanced propulsion technology strategy, which guided the company’s development of a wide range of advanced engine technologies, hybrid vehicles, and the Chevrolet Volt.
Stephens led the globalization of powertrain engineering, leveraging global centers of expertise to speed engine development. He also championed the use of computational tools and common parts in GM engineering and product development processes to increase quality and efficiency.
 Stephens' GM career began in 1969 as an hourly employee at the Chevrolet Engineering Center in Warren, Mich., under the University of Michigan Student Co-op Program.  Stephens held several engineering positions at Cadillac Motor Car Division and a series of engineering leadership posts with the Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac Division before being chosen to lead the newly created GM Powertrain Division.
 Stephens said he plans to continue to serve on the board of directors of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Foundation and the board of trustees for the Detroit Science Center.  He is a member of the Engineering Advisory Council for the University of Michigan School of Engineering and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2007 for his contributions to powertrain engineering. By Joseph Szczesny


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