Independent-minded Phil Murtaugh abruptly quit his job as CEO of GM China Group in May 2005 to escape having a boss looking over his shoulder. GM had moved its Asia Pacific headquarters to Shanghai and taken away some of Murtaugh's decision-making freedom.
Now he has the Shanghai government and China's central government as minders.
In his new job as executive vice president of overseas manufacturing and operations at Chinese automaker SAIC Motor Corp., Murtaugh is charged with the delicate task of trying to fix SAIC's Korean subsidiary, Ssangyong Motor Co.
Meanwhile, the local and national governments are pressuring state-owned SAIC to come up with its own brand and to come out with a hybrid car. The Ssangyong purchase was an attempt to gain technology for an SAIC brand. Currently, SAIC is merely an assembly partner for GM and Volkswagen.
"I am going to take a hard look at Ssangyong, whose fortunes have been on a down slope since SAIC bought it," says Murtaugh, who took the job last week.