DETROIT -- Troy Clarke's public persona is that of quiet, reserved General Motors executive. But he's a knowledgeable executive who questions subordinates closely to sharpen their thinking, a colleague says.
Clarke, 51, is moving stateside to take over as GM's president of North America on July 1. He has been president of GM Asia Pacific since June 2004.
Clarke ran Asia Pacific as China expanded and became GM's second-largest market. Before that he was group vice president of manufacturing and labor relations. Clarke was the chief negotiator with the UAW during the 2003 labor talks
His new job is to manage GM's troubled North American operations. That means dealing with UAW leaders. Those who know Clarke say his leadership style is a good fit for the job.
"He's not a table-pounder," says Dave Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Ray Koopman worked under Clarke in Asia for two years. Koopman, who is back in Detroit as a director of manufacturing engineering, calls Clarke a "tremendous leader," adding: "He's a very personable and open person. He has a very solid knowledge of all facets of the business and the ability to ask the right questions."
Clarke's manufacturing background will benefit North America's production efficiency, Koopman says. And because Asia Pacific is the highest-growth region in the world, Clarke was forced to learn such segments of the business as marketing, sales and purchasing.
As a result, Koopman says, Clarke brings a "global vision" to his role in North America.
Clarke started his career at Pontiac in 1973. Over the next 10 years, he held various engineering and manufacturing jobs in North America. Clarke's mentor, Gary Cowger, a GM group vice persident, said in an e-mail:
"His experiences outside the U.S. have further enhanced his knowledge and skills in building and marketing great vehicles."
You may e-mail Jamie LaReau at [email protected]