Having just been appointed interim CEO at General Motors earlier this week, ex-AT&T man Ed Whitacre isn't wasting any time in exercising his newfound authority. According to The Wall Street Journal, Whitacre is to announce a number of management changes this morning, including moving Vice Chairman Bob Lutz from his role in marketing to a more product planning-focused role. Whitacre is also expected to promote some of the company's younger managers to new positions, although it has not yet been revealed who is targeted.

According to the WSJ, Whitacre "drew up the new management blueprint in a matter of four hours," suggesting to us that he already had a number of changes in mind. Further, he is also expected to combine GM's sales and marketing divisions

While Whitacre has only been on the job since Tuesday and he is technically only considered an interim appointment at this time, the search for a new CEO is thought likely to take months, if not a year. From the looks of things, Whitacre isn't looking at himself as simply a placeholder, though, and we wouldn't be surprised to see more changes as the weeks and months roll by.

*UPDATE: Changes confirmed: GM has issued a press release (viewable after the jump). Among the moves, Bob Lutz will be an 'advisor' on design and global product – he will retain his title of vice chairman. Other changes include Mark Reuss named as president of GM North America, Susan Docherty appointed VP, vehicle sales, service, and marketing operations. For a full list of changes, click past the jump for the release.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal I Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty]



PRESS RELEASE:

GM Announces Leadership Changes

2009-12-04

DETROIT – To improve accountability and responsibility for market performance in North America and around the world, several key leadership changes were announced today by GM Chairman and CEO, Ed Whitacre.

"I want to give people more responsibility and authority deeper in the organization and then hold them accountable," Whitacre said. "We've realigned our leadership duties and responsibilities to help us meet our mission to design, build and sell the world's best vehicles."

Mark Reuss is named president of GM North America. Reuss was briefly vice president of Engineering after leading GM's Holden operations in Australia in 2008. Reporting to Reuss will be Susan E. Docherty, who is appointed vice president, Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing operations. Also aligned under the new North American group will be Diana D. Tremblay, who is named vice president, Manufacturing and Labor Relations. Tremblay was most recently vice president of Labor Relations. Denise C. Johnson is named vice president, Labor Relations. Johnson was most recently vehicle line director and chief engineer for Global Small Cars.

Nick Reilly is named president, GM Europe. Reilly has been leading the restructuring efforts in Europe with the Opel/Vauxhall operations and will leave his role leading GM International Operations.

Tim Lee is named president of GM International Operations, overseeing GM's Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa, and Middle East operations. Lee was most recently group vice president, Manufacturing and Labor Relations.

Bob Lutz remains vice chairman and will act as advisor on design and global product development.

Thomas G. Stephens remains vice chairman of Global Product Operations, and will now take on global purchasing in his organization, which will continue to be lead by Robert E. Socia, vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. Karl-Friedrich Stracke is appointed vice president, Engineering, reporting to Stephens. Stracke was most recently executive director of Engineering.

J. Christopher Preuss, vice president, Communications, will now report to Whitacre; he previously reported to Lutz.

The balance of the direct report staff remains unchanged and includes CFO Ray G. Young; John F. Smith, vice president Corporate Planning and Alliances; Terry Kline, vice president IS&S; Mary T. Barra, vice president Human Resources; Mike Millikin, vice president of Legal; and Ken C. Cole, vice president Government Relations and Public Policy.

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About General Motors: General Motors, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 209,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.