The idea of (another) finance guy in the top spot at GM could give auto enthusiasts pause. Liddell does have experience as a chief executive, however, having held the position at two New Zealand firms: Carter Holt Harvey, and CS First Boston NZ. Still, the bulk of his experience is in finance, and his Microsoft tenure is regarded mostly for helping the company save cash and overseeing job cuts.
Those are two skills GM clearly needs right now, and we hope Liddell will do well in the CFO position. But if he's being groomed for the top position, we wonder how his skills will translate to developing vehicles. True, Ford's Alan Mulally was an outsider who hadn't ever developed a car, either, but he did have decades of experience in development, having assisted or overseen the progress of at least seven different Boeing planes.
No need to get ahead of ourselves, though -- Liddell has plenty of work to complete as CFO first, his $750,000-plus pay package won't deliver until 2012, and only then if he delivers. GM is still searching for a CEO to take the reins back from Ed Whitacre. That will give the 51-year-old Liddell time to study and learn the craft of running an auto company... and figure out how to bring back the Pontiac G8 GXP. Seriously, we don't care which brand does it...