June 23, 2014 at 6:47 pm

GM replaces North America manufacturing VP, creates new exec post

Manufacturing VP moves to new post: operational excellence

General Motors Co. on Monday named manufacturing and labor veteran Cathy Clegg as North America manufacturing vice president, replacing Gerald Johnson, who held the job for just a year.

The Detroit automaker is moving Johnson into a new role as vice president of operational excellence. He starts his new position July 1 and reports to GM CEO Mary Barra.

“His responsibilities will include planning and execution of a company-wide focus on process discipline, improvement and waste elimination, establishing Six Sigma training and requirements and managing a team of Six Sigma experts to lead and support projects across all functions of the company,” Barra wrote in a memo to GM leaders.

GM Chairman Tim Solso told The Detroit News this month that he and Barra have talked about implementing the Six Sigma quality program across GM to eliminate waste, variation and cut costs, and also to create permanent cultural change.

GM named Kevin Wong as executive director of the Program Management Office. He will handle recommendations from the automaker’s internal investigation into the delayed ignition switch recall, and will handle “linkage” with GM’s consent order with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration resulting from the recall.

According to the memo, Wong will report to Barra until “short-term recommendations are fully enacted with robust plans for the long-term initiatives.” The work is expected to wrap up by Sept. 30.

Wong is director of GM’s global gas engine calibration and has worked in a number of powertrain engineering roles since 1995.

Clegg, who most recently was a global manufacturing engineering vice president, will oversee more than 74,000 employees who work in 55 assembly, stamping, powertrain and component plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Her appointment is effective July 1.

Clegg has worked for GM 31 years and has held leadership positions in vehicle assembly, stamping and powertrain operations. She was vice president of labor relations for GM in 2011 and led GM’s negotiations for its contract with the UAW.

The automaker named Kurt Wiese as a global manufacturing engineering vice president to replace Clegg. Wiese has 36 years of experience in manufacturing and manufacturing engineering. He most recently was executive director in GM’s global product development.

Johnson, who has worked at GM for more than three decades, replaced Diana Tremblay, who was named vice president of its new Global Business Services unit. He previously was executive director of global program quality and launch.

Johnson was mentioned in GM’s investigation into the ignition switch recall. The report found Johnson did not dial in to a Dec. 17 meeting of GM’s Executive Field Action Decision Committee charged with deciding whether to recall cars. The report said that in one of Johnson’s interviews, he said he participated by phone and by teleconference, but later claimed he did not participate at all.

GM leadership opted at that Dec. 17 meeting not to recall the Chevy Cobalt for ignition switch problems as it waited for more information. The company has since recalled 2.59 million Cobalts and other cars for ignition switch defects linked to 13 deaths and 54 crashes.

GM spokeswoman Katie McBride said Johnson was not demoted, because he now reports directly to the CEO. His job change was announced last week.

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