DETROIT -- General Motors Co.’s new CFO, Chris Liddell, took a monthlong break between leaving Microsoft Corp. and starting his job at GM in February.
But once he started, the 51-year-old New Zealander said, he threw himself into the long workdays common at the Renaissance Center, GM’s headquarters.
“I like short meetings,” he told reporters today. “I have a desire to simplify things, speed them up.”
In fact, his working preferences match those of another new GM executive -- CEO Ed Whitacre.
“The senior team meetings, they’re short, focused, to the point,” Liddell said. “There’s a high sense of urgency and accountability at the senior level, and I like that.”
Sources say GM wants an internal candidate to replace Whitacre as CEO in a couple of years, and Whitacre has said Liddell could be a candidate. But the sources say any top-level executive has a shot at the job.
Liddell said now is “way, way too early” to speculate about his chances of being CEO.
“I have no shortage of things to do as I come in each morning, so where that leads, who knows?” he said.
For now, Liddell spends much of his spare time driving cars. He said he wants to drive every vehicle GM sells, from the top-of-the-line models to the slow-selling, average cars. This week, he’s driving a Cadillac Escalade -- quite the change from the Ferrari California he drove year-round when he was Microsoft’s CFO.
And once Liddell gets a handle on his new job, he may find time for golf or tennis or visiting his two teenage sons, who are in school in Seattle and Connecticut. He said he still goes to the gym, but the former Ironman triathlon finisher said he’s now found another way to spend about 13 hours besides swimming, bicycling and running.
Right now, he said, that’s “about the average workday.”