Akerson looks over his shoulder at GM and Detroit

Jan. 16, 2014 at 2:57 PM
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DETROIT, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Dan Akerson, the retired head of U.S. automaker General Motors, said he hoped his successor's successes leave him in the dust.

The new chief executive officer, Mary Barra, took over Wednesday.

"I hope Mary's gangbusters successful and my name fades to black," said Akerson, 65, who retired to spend more time with his family. His wife, Karin, was recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

The Detroit News reported Thursday Akerson, who was thrust into the leadership role at GM by the Treasury Department in August 2010, named a few successes of his own, including a faster financial reporting cycle, which was shortened by eight weeks, and a redesigned executive suite.

When Akerson moved from the company's board to take over as CEO and chairman, the executive offices included 38,000 square-feet of office space for just four of the company's top brass.

The office space now includes dozens of managers and their assistants, Akerson said.

"If anyone was traveling, I thought I was in a morgue," he said of the first configuration.

Akerson took over from former Chief Executive Officer Ed Whitacre, who was ousted by the Treasury Department as it orchestrated a massive bailout for the automaker.

Treasury also restricted executive pay for bailed out companies, but Akerson said that was not a factor for GM's top leadership.

"I don't think money was an issue. This was a mission," he said.

"You had to believe you were doing this for the good of the company, this region of the country and for the United States," he said.

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