New man at the top for GM Canada

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Stephen Carlisle is about to have a lot on his plate.

Carlisle, 52, has been named president and managing director of GM Canada succeeding Kevin Williams. Williams will assist in the transition and retire from the automaker at the end of the year.

The move comes at yet another tumultuous time for the company. Williams, who has led GM Canada since 2010, saw his tenure marked by a loss in market share, vehicle recalls and at least three major lawsuits filed against the company by members of its own current and former dealer network.

In addition to the dealer lawsuits, he has presided over Canadian operations as a growing scandal related to delayed safety recalls linked to multiple deaths both in Canada and the U.S. has grown.

Though sales were up last month and year-to-date, GM Canada and Williams endured a rough road coming out of the recession. After receiving government bailout money in 2009, the automaker has seen market share drop from 17.5 per cent as of October 2009 to 13.4 per cent last month.

Carlisle has acknowledged the market share issue in interviews this week and noted that a strong mix of new products headed to showrooms over the next 18 months should bolster performance for the company.

Carlisle was born in Woodstock, Ont., and received a bachelor of applied science degree in systems design engineering from the University of Waterloo in 1986. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999.

Prior positions with the automaker included V-P of global product planning and program management, V-P of U.S. sales operations and president and managing director of Southeast Asia operations from 2007 through 2010.

He will report to Alan Batey, president, GM North America.

“I’m honoured to have the opportunity to return to Canada and build on the winning foundation established by Kevin and the team over the past four years,” Carlisle said in a release.

“Having worked intensely on GM’s world-leading new products and technology strategies, I am excited to bring my enthusiasm and product focus to Canada. I look forward to working with our employees, dealers and other key stakeholders to continue to build an organization that puts the customer at the centre of everything we do.”

Williams joined GM in 1983 and is calling it a career after 31 years with the automaker.