Detroit’s GM Creates, Fills VP of Dealer Operations, Innovation, Dearborn’s Ford Sees Retirements

General Motors Co. in Detroit has announced Brian Sweeney, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet sales, service, and marketing, will move to a newly created position as vice president of dealer operations and innovation. Steve Hill, vice president of U.S. sales, service, and marketing, will lead Chevrolet in addition to his current role. The changes will be effective Friday, Nov. 15.
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Brian Sweeney
Brian Sweeney, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet sales, service, and marketing will fill the newly created position of vice president of dealer operations and innovation at GM. // Photo courtesy of General Motors.

General Motors Co. in Detroit has announced Brian Sweeney, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet sales, service, and marketing, will move to a newly created position as vice president of dealer operations and innovation. Steve Hill, vice president of U.S. sales, service, and marketing, will lead Chevrolet in addition to his current role. The changes will be effective Friday, Nov. 15.

“Our dealers already do an excellent job taking care of our customers, and Brian and Steve have played a major role in building that foundation,” says Barry Engle, executive vice president and president of GM North America.

Sweeney will report to Engle and Travis Hester, vice president of global customer experience, a team formed in September. His job will be to lead retail innovation and work with Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC dealers to deliver customer experience and a dealer business model.

Hill’s responsibility will be to maintain continuity and sales momentum. He will continue to report to Engle.

“Competition is intensifying, customer expectations are rising, and technology is transforming vehicles, dealership operations, and the way we engage with customers,” says Engle. “We will meet these changes head-on, and we are putting some of our most experienced and accomplished leaders in charge of embracing change and driving innovation. Our goals are ambitious but attainable: make our dealers the most successful in the industry, make our brands even more valuable, and drive even higher levels of customer loyalty.”

Dearborn’s Ford Motor Co. also has announced leadership changes.

Kim Pittel, vice president of sustainability, environment, and safety engineering, has elected to retire effective Dec. 1 after a 34-year career. For the past five years, Pittel has led enhancement and implementation of the company’s global environment and safety strategy, policy, and performance, while working to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

Pittel also has developed and launched the Ford Mustang, Escape, Focus, and Fusion; Mercury Milan; and Lincoln MKZ models; global transmission and driveline engineering; quality in North and South America; and global supplier technical assistance.

“Across the business, from manufacturing to safety and the environment, Kim has led with integrity and a commitment to do what is right for customers and employees,” says Joe Hinrichs, president of automotive. “She also has been one of Ford’s strongest advocates for career development, mentorship, and diversity and inclusion – simply a terrific leader.”

Bob Holycross will succeed Pittel, becoming a corporate officer. He has been global director of sustainability, homologation, and compliance since July 2018, responsible for sustainable business plans and policies, external relationships with regulatory bodies around the world, reporting on the company’s environmental and social performance, and engaging with non-governmental organizations and other outside stakeholders.

Holycross joined the company in 1993 as a Ford College Graduate. He has held engineering and supervisory positions.

Jim Holland, vice president of vehicle component and system engineering, will also retire after a 35-year career, effective Dec. 1. He was car and truck vehicle line director for Ford Asia Pacific before becoming engineering director for Ford Asia Pacific; chief engineer for the Ford Explorer program; chief engineer for the global hybrid vehicle strategy; and chief program engineer for Range Rover vehicles when Land Rover was part of Ford.

“Jim has helped us create great vehicles for millions of customers around the world,” says Hau Thai-Tang, chief product development and purchasing officer. “His career is a hallmark of excellence and technical breadth, across cars, trucks, and SUVs and a variety of propulsion systems.”

Chuck Gray will succeed Holland and is the director of Ford’s global core electrical team. He started with Ford in 1991 and has engineered traditional gasoline powertrains and electrified propulsion systems. He also worked on engineering development of small cars in China. Most recently, Gray delivered a strategy to modernize Ford’s vehicle connectivity, software capability, and electric architecture, including the design of Ford’s Driver Assist technology and development team. He will report to Thai-Tang.

John Lawler, vice president of strategy, will become CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC and vice president of mobility partnerships. He is taking over from Sherif Marakby, who has elected to take a personal leave from the company.

Lawler will lead the autonomous team and be the point person for partnerships with technology companies in areas of mobility, including vehicle connectivity and autonomous vehicles.

He joined Ford in 1990 and was chairman and CEO of Ford’s China operations before becoming vice president and corporate controller. This role included serving as CFO for Ford’s global markets business. He then led the company’s strategy office.

David McClelland will take over for Lawler. He is currently CEO of Ford Credit, the company’s dealer and customers financing arm, where he has worked since 1993. He previously held Ford Credit leadership roles in Europe, Africa, and North America, including responsibilities for China and India and for global marketing. McClelland will remain chairman of the Ford Credit board.

Lawler and McClelland will report to Jim Farley, president of new business, technology, and strategy.

Marion Harris, vice president of Ford’s mobility business group, has been named successor to McClelland as CEO of Ford Credit. He was previously CFO for the unit, responsible for financial planning, analysis, and accounting operations. He is also a board member of FordDirect, a joint venture between Ford and its dealers that provides the dealers with digital marketing and advertising solutions. Harris reports to Tim Stone, corporate CFO for Ford.

The assignments for Lawler, McClelland, and Harris are effective immediately.

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