A CEO horse race is in the offing at General Motors, so naturally Karl-Friedrich Stracke's emergence in the top tier of executives begs the question: Is the 55-year-old German engineer a contender?
Stracke is surely on a fast track. GM announced last week that he would take over as president of GM Europe on Jan. 1. He'll succeed Nick Reilly, 61, who will retire in March.
In March, GM appointed Stracke to replace Reilly as head of Opel, though Reilly remained in charge of the overall European business. Now Stracke assumes the bigger job as well.
A lot of attention is paid to Ford's CEO sweepstakes, but the race could be heating up at GM, too. Dan Akerson is 63, after all.
And GM's short list of candidates is getting longer. It includes North American President Mark Reuss, 48; international operations boss Tim Lee, 60; Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, 49; and Mary Barra, 49, head of product development.
Some consider Stracke a contender, although he still has a massive turnaround job ahead of him in Europe. And he's not an American. But before taking the Opel job, Stracke spent 18 months in United States as GM's head of global vehicle engineering, following Reuss into the job.
And he built a following over here. He's credited with helping overhaul GM's vehicle lineup as the company emerged from bankruptcy.