@150mph General Motor’s CFO Dan Ammann Shows He Is No Bean Counter

by Mitch Talley on July 20, 2012

General Motor's CFO Dan Ammann Shows He No Bean Counter
Photo Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook

If General Motors, and therefore Corvette, are to thrive, it will likely take more employees like Dan Ammann.

Named the chief financial officer of the new GM last year, Ammann has wasted little time making it clear to those underneath him that he’s not one of the old guard. To illustrate his point, he recently even took his gray-metallic Corvette Z06 to 150 miles per hour in a challenge to the company’s “car guys.” Ammann is one of only 30 GM executives authorized to drive that fast on GM’s Michigan track.


He knows that GM has little time to make changes to eliminate its arrogant and stodgy bureaucracy that will enable the once-dominant carmaker to remain a relevant competitor in today’s world.

“We have a window of opportunity to bring some fundamental change to this company,” Ammann admits, “and it’s a relatively narrow window.”

His zest for reviving GM is good news for Corvette fans, who can only hope that his ideas take root and spread through the rest of the company.

After he advised GM during its bankruptcy and restructuring as head of industrial investment banking at Morgan Stanley. Ammann earned respect from Wall Street, who have even labeled him a possible successor to current CEO Dan Akerson.

One of Ammann’s major goals so far has been to simplify the financial information shared by his team, which includes more than 4,000 people around the world.

To set an example, at a recent meeting, he used only three slides instead of the 15 it might have taken in past years in a speech to 20,000 GM product development employees.

“We’ve never had a problem of not having enough data, but we haven’t always done a good job of distilling it down to what’s really important,” Ammann said.

Critics say that the same old middle managers are still around, below new top executives like Ammann, and after all, it was they who helped drive GM into the ground in the first place.

But former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz believes Ammann can make a difference.

General Motor's CFO Dan Ammann Shows He No Bean Counter
Photo Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook

“Dan Ammann is the ‘real deal,’ and has already done a lot to strip stupid thinking and analysis out of the finance group,” Lutz said. “But ‘bean counter-itis’ and short-term thinking are ever present, at many levels, and in all functions.”

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