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7/23/2009
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GM CIO Ralph Szygenda To Retire; New CIO Named

CEO Fritz Henderson announced Szygenda's resignation as part of a management shake-up at the troubled automaker. Terry Kline, one of Szygenda's direct reports, will take over as CIO.

General Motors announced a major management shakeup on Thursday, and CIO Ralph Szygenda is among those leaving the company.

He will be replaced by Terry Kline, one of Szygenda's direct reports in IT.

Szygenda, 60, will retire from the company on Oct. 1, according to a statement. GM will also retire Gary Cowger, 62, VP of global manufacturing and labor relations; Troy Clarke, 54, president of GM North America; Maureen Kempston Darkes, 60, president of GM Latin America; and Michael Grimaldi, 57, CEO of GM Daewoo.

GM CEO Fritz Henderson, in a statement, thanked Szygenda and the other executives for "their leadership during an extraordinary period for GM," adding that "we wish them the best as they move into the next chapters of their lives."

Kline, 47, currently one of about seven process information officers that report to Szygenda, will be named CIO. He joined GM in 2001 from New Venture Gear, where he was CIO, and previously served as interim CIO at GM Asia Pacific.

Henderson likely sees that as beneficial experience, since Asia is one of the few bright spots for GM for sales, and a growing destination for manufacturing sites and IT development.

There's been speculation for months about more management changes at GM, following CEO Rick Wagoner's resignation in March. Szygenda, who joined the company in 1996, was likely considered part of the old guard.

Yet in IT circles, Szygenda was recognized as an innovator through his work at GM. Long before it was in vogue, Szygenda embraced the concept of a lean internal IT workforce that specializes in project management, while handing out much of the pure IT work, such as software coding, to IT contractors across the globe. That model helped GM cut millions of dollars out of its IT budget by the late '90s.

Several years ago, GM offered up $15 billion in IT service contracts to suppliers. But to win, service providers had to adhere to 44 standard processes GM created for IT projects. Companies that got the biggest contracts, including Capgemini, Covisint, EDS, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Wipro, had to put aside proprietary approaches and competitive differences to get their employees all working for GM the same way.

Under Szygenda's direction, GM also has collaborated with Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute to develop the Capability Maturity Model Integration for Acquisitions methodology. CMMI-ACQ is designed to help companies improve the processes they use to acquire IT services, including how to choose projects to outsource; select, manage, and collaborate with suppliers; and manage risk.

In 2002, InformationWeek named Szygenda its Chief Of The Year. Szygenda also sits on InformationWeek's Advisory Board.

See also: How CIO Szygenda Helped GM Get Out Of The Fortune-Telling Business.


InformationWeek's Informed CIO series lays out 10 questions to ask about application performance management before buying. Download the report here (registration required).

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