DETROIT -- General Motors has a vigorous, 51-year-old CEO in Rick Wagoner. And it has a cadre of ambitious senior executives who are roughly Wagoner's age.
That makes defections such as Mark Hogan's move to become president of Magna International Inc. predictable -- and a problem for GM, industry sources say.
Hogan is leaving his post as GM's group vice president for advanced vehicle development.
"I am now 53 years of age, so this is important to my further career," Hogan said Friday, Aug. 20.
A GM source says Hogan felt blocked from advancement. That can make a top job, even at a smaller company, irresistible, says David Cole, president of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"A guy like Mark, who's in the same age range as Rick, really looked at his path to the top as sealed because of Rick's age," Cole says.
In 2001, Ron Zarrella, then president of GM North America, left to become CEO of Bausch & Lomb Inc. He cited his desire to be a CEO.
This year, Michael Burns quit as GM Europe CEO to run Dana Corp.
Gerald Meyers, a professor at the University of Michigan and former American Motors chairman, says the tendency for ambitious executives to depart if blocked by a younger CEO "in general is going to be true."