Last week, General Motors announced the appointment of Cynthia Trudell as the new head of Saturn Corp. It was a promotion that was long overdue.
By coincidence, I spent some time with Trudell at the Birmingham Motor Show a few weeks ago and came away very impressed.
She's not one of those flashy, high-energy personalities, but after spending a little time talking to her, I knew that this was one solid automotive leader and a real asset to GM. It's nice to know that GM realized that as well.
Trudell told me that she has a great and very supportive family. That is a key to success for many women and men in the workplace. Obviously, somebody has to be fairly mobile when he or she has a fast-rising spouse. More and more, we will see that the husband is the supportive partner. Otherwise, you end up with split households.
But what a delight to have someone of Trudell's style and experience running Saturn. Don Hudler has done a great job at Saturn with his own style. Now, he's taking on a tough assignment as head of Saturn's public dealer company.
But the whole philosophy of Saturn is perfect for Cynthia Trudell. It's going to be fun watching her get involved not only in the products and manufacturing, but with Saturn's fabled sales side as well.
Let's hope that, along with a couple of other bright women who are now responsible for marketing at Pontiac-GMC and Oldsmobile, we'll see some innovations that are long overdue at GM and perhaps the automobile industry worldwide.
Meanwhile, the automobile industry is losing one of its best spokesmen. The Big 3's trade association is going out of business, and Andy Card will be out of a job. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical when the American Automobile Manufacturers Association hired Andy. But he has done an energetic and knowledgeable job representing the domestic automobile industry in an important arena.
Those auto companies are going to miss Andy Card, and they won't realize it until he's gone. He'll be a catch for whoever lands him. He raised the political profile of the domestic manufacturers and pursued issues in Washington that otherwise wouldn't have been resolved.
Some people are coming in and moving up the corporate ladders, and others are leaving for new opportunities. Things never stay the same for long in this business. I guess that's why it's always so interesting.