Business Leaders: General Motors’ Daniel Akerson

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Name: Daniel Francis Akerson
Born:
October 21, 1948
Company: General Motors
Position: Chairman and CEO
Previous role: Managing Director and Head of Global Buyout for The Carlyle Group
Education:
BS at the U.S. Naval Academy, MS at the London School of Economics
Quote: "As a company, we've said that we will stop at nothing until all of our brands are recognized as customer service leaders."

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In 2009, General Motors lost $4.2 billion in one quarter. The organization filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company subsequently received a controversial $50 billion bailout. During this time, Daniel Akerson joined the company, bringing a stellar track record of profit with him.

He led General Motors from bankruptcy to their renewed status as a leading automobile manufacturer. Although the company has been paying back the bailout, taxpayers still own roughly 30% of the company.

To this day, he defends the government bailout of General Motors: "This was a difficult decision that was made by two separate administrations, two radically different points of view from a political perspective - and it worked, and jobs were saved. People can send their children to college. Unemployment was reduced. This is all good for America."

Despite only being head of General Motors for a few years, Akerson speaks like a seasoned professional, because he is one. Akerson has held the positions of CEO or president for multiple telecommunications/technology companies: MCI, Nextel Communications, XO Communication and General Instrument. While CFO and president of MCI, the organization's market share doubled.

As The Carlyle Group's managing director and head of global buyout, Akerson managed over 200 portfolio companies and more than $50 billion in assets. Caryle's private equity business generated 30 percent gross internal rate of returns, with his leadership.

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In 2009, Akerson joined General Motors as a member of the board of directors, the same month it emerged from bankruptcy. He was elected CEO on August 11, 2010 and assumed the role the following month.

Akerson was central in the increase of fuel efficiency research and implementation. GM reports that their current line-up is the company's most fuel efficient throughout its history.

Akerson has recently made the news for promoting many women to more powerful positions within his organization. He attributes this to simply recognizing talent and capability. Four of 12 of General Motors directors are women. Akerson said, "We want diversity--not only gender, but race and ethnicity--on the board as well, too."

According to the Form 14A proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, his total compensation for 2011 was $9 million. This was comprised of his $1.7 cash salary, $5.3 million in stock and $2 million in restricted stock units.

He is on the boards of the Tsinghua University School and Economics and Management Advisory Board, the International Business Leaders Advisory Council of Shanghai and the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation. He is also a member of the Business Council and chair of the Blue Earth Foundation.

The College of William & Mary awarded him the T.C. and Elizabeth Cooke Business Medallion in 2004. The U.S. Naval Academy awarded him the Distinguished Graduate Award for his lifetime commitment to service, personal character and distinguished contributions to our nation in 2012.

As co-chair of the Leaders to Serve the Nation capital campaign, he helped raise $254 million for the U.S. Naval Academy. So Others Might Eat (SOME) named him Humanitarian of the Year in 2011.

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