From the fields of rural Waikato, to the boardrooms of General Motors in New York, is a huge step and that’s one that Dan Ammann has taken to be the President of General Motors. So how did he get there?
Daniel Ammann was born in New Zealand and did a Bachelor of Management Studies at Waikato University graduating in 1994 with first class honours. He began a career with investment banking in New Zealand starting as an associate in the banking team at Credit Suisse First Boston.
Leaving New Zealand in 1997 for the New York office, Ammann continued working at Credit Suisse before shifting to Morgan Stanley in 1999. His drive, determination and talent brought a rapid rise up the corporate banking ladder and he was appointed managing director of Morgan Stanley in 2004.
It was at Morgan Stanley where he began to focus on the automotive industry and General Motors was in his client list. From 1999 until 2010 Ammann had plenty of exposure to Detroit’s automotive industry and the inner workings of General Motors. He was also involved at the sharp end of the difficult challenges that the global financial crisis brought to the carmaker.
What’s been amazing for General Motors is that after 20 months of being placed into bankruptcy and needing a US$50 billion US Government bailout, they are now back in profit. The success is partly due to the inspired and decisive leadership of Ammann’s former colleague and General Motors Chief Financial Officer, Chris Liddell.
So it’s this role that Dan Ammann first took over at GM. Chris Liddell was a former colleague of Ammann’s at Morgan Stanley, a fellow Kiwi and someone Ammann had known for 20 years. This appointment was most likely a succession plan by Liddell leading up to his retirement due this year.
No one finds the appointment as President a surprise as Daniel Ammann joined the General Motor’s team from Morgan Stanley in 2010. This period saw him take on a number of high-profile assignments including; Advising GM on its 2009 bankruptcy, company restructuring, Opel’s path back to profitability, a $26 billion reduction to GM’s salaried pension obligation and a fortress balance sheet against a future global crisis.
Ammann says that it’s all about getting involved in the business, design, building and selling cars. Finance needs to give people the right tools to perform the job better and add more value. Making the complicated simple, trying hard to understand the challenges and constraints that the industry faces. He also talks about using the massive amount of data inside GM, as data on its own is of little use but turning that into relevant information will provide greater insight and better solutions.
Not surprising Ammann is a keen car guy and holds a test driver certificate for the Nürburgring racetrack in Germany and his personal car interests include a Cadillac ATS, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and a restored 1961 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible. (Sample images shown).