Edward E. Whitacre Jr. built AT&T Inc. into the biggest U.S. provider of telephone service over a 43-year-career. By his own admission, he becomes chairman of General Motors Corp. knowing nothing about the auto industry.
The 6-foot-4-inch Texan nicknamed “Big Ed” said steering the nation’s largest automaker after bankruptcy is “a public service.” People who know him say he can meet GM’s need for the type of transformation he orchestrated at Dallas-based AT&T.
“I don’t know anything about cars,” Whitacre, 67, said yesterday in an interview after his appointment. “A business is a business, and I think I can learn about cars. I’m not that old, and I think the business principles are the same.”
Now, one doesn’t have to know about [INSERT NAME OF PRODUCT HERE] in order to successfully run a company that sells [INSERT NAME OF PRODUCT HERE]. But it sure would help, wouldn’t it?
Relatedly–and I am sorry I keep having to ask this, but still–what is the federal government doing choosing the head of a car company? At the most, this is the kind of decision that gets made in a bankruptcy court.