Kevin Wale, President of General Motors in China, has announced that he is stepping down at the end of this month. Wale (inset) will be succeeded by the man shown above, Bob Socia, who is currently vice president of the company's purchasing and supply chain. The transition will take effect October 1.
Wale, 57, has also been operating as chief country operations officer in the automaker's China, India, and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) regions. Socia will take over these duties as well. Wale started his work with GM back in 1975 at the Holden brand. There, he took on the roles of director of finance as well as director of sales and marketing. He followed that up with a stint with GM's Asia Pacific operations, as the executive responsible for that outfit from 1998 to 2001. Wale took over as chairman and managing director for Vauxhall from 2001 to 2005 when he took the helm of the Asia Pacific branch of GM.
Wale's presence in GM's China outpost will be missed – he presided over a period of great growth for the company in the region. Greater Chinese sales were 560,000 units in 2005 when Wale took over. Contrast that with 2011, when GM China moved 2.5 million units in the rapidly maturing market.
The 58-year-old Socia, who will be taking over for Wale at the end of the month, has spent time in just about every region GM has operations in. He started in Detroit with Cadillac in 1975. From there, he moved on to hold top positions at GM Asia Pacific, GM Europe, GM Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Despite stepping down, Socia will remain a member of GM's Executive Operations Committee. His successor at his soon-to-be-vacated position has yet to be named.
The GM of China announcement is the latest high-level management change for GM in what has been a tumultuous year. CEO Dan Akerson has pledged to shake up the way the company does business, and there have been substantial head executive changes in the company's power structure. Big changes have come in areas like infotainment and manufacturing, not to mention the controversial ousting of global marketing chief Joel Ewanick in late July.
Read more in the official announcement by scrolling below.
Kevin Wale to Retire as Leader of GM China Operations
Bob Socia to lead GM's key Asia markets
SHANGHAI – Kevin Wale, president, GM China, and chief country operations officer, China, India and ASEAN, has announced that he will retire Oct. 31. Bob Socia, GM vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, will succeed Wale, effective Oct. 1.
"Kevin has been instrumental in strengthening our foundation in the largest vehicle market in the world," said Tim Lee, GM vice president, Global Manufacturing, and president, International Operations. "Delivering exceptional value related to General Motors' presence in China, he has made the company a recognized business leader and valued partner throughout Asia. We appreciate Kevin's nearly four decades of service to the company and wish him continued success."
Wale, 57, began his GM career at Holden in 1975, where he held the positions of director of Finance and director of Sales and Marketing. In 1998, he moved to Singapore as the executive responsible for GM's Asia Pacific operations. In 2001, he moved to the U.K. as chairman and managing director of Vauxhall Motors and vice president of GM Europe. In 2005, Wale became president and managing director of the GM China Group, responsible for the overall coordination of GM's extensive operations in Greater China. GM's annual sales grew from 560,000 units in 2005 to 2.5 million units in 2011, and the company has remained the leader among global OEMs for seven consecutive years. In 2009, Wale received the Shanghai government's Magnolia Award, the highest honor for members of the foreign community in Shanghai.
Socia has worked in every GM region around the world. With his broad global background, he is well prepared for a seamless transition to oversee many of GM's key Asian markets.
"Bob has extensive experience leading global operations and global purchasing, and working directly with our joint venture partners," said Lee. "His vast knowledge of our business around the world, combined with his ability to build and foster strong relationships and always put the customer first, makes him a perfect fit for this critical role."
Socia, 58, joined GM's Cadillac Division in Detroit in 1975 and worked in both the finance and materials management areas. He has held a number of senior international positions in GM Asia Pacific, GM Europe, and GM Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Socia was appointed president and managing director of GM South Africa in 2004. In 2007, he was named executive vice president of Shanghai GM, GM's 15-year-old joint venture in China. Socia was appointed GM vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, in 2009. He has been responsible for GM's global purchasing, supplier quality, logistics, order fulfillment and supply operations.
In his new position, Socia will report to Lee and remain a member of GM's Executive Operations Committee (EOC). Socia's successor in Global Purchasing and Supply Chain will be named in the near future.
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM's brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.