Ed Welburn, General Motors’ head of global design, is retiring effective July 1. He will be succeeded by Australian Michael Simcoe, vice president of design at GM’s International Operations, who will begin taking over for Welburn on May 1.
Working for GM is the only career that Welburn, who turned 65 in December, ever pursued. As an 11-year old boy growing up in Philadelphia, he wrote to GM seeking advice on how he could become a car designer. The letter was answered, and Welburn — just the sixth man to ever steer GM design — was on his way. He graduated from Howard University’s College of Fine Arts and started at GM in 1972 as an associate designer, becoming the company’s first African-American designer. Welburn’s GM career spanned 44 years.