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18 September 2012 | Anna Reynolds
General Motors' (GM) purchasing chief Bob Socia is to become the president of the automotive manufacturer’s business in China.
It follows the retirement of Kevin Wale, president and chief country operations officer, who will step down on 31 October. Socia will take up the position on 1 October, allowing for a handover between the two men. GM is yet to appoint a CPO to replace Socia.
Socia joined GM in 1975 working in the Cadillac division in Detroit in the US in finance and materials management. He has held a number of senior international positions and was appointed president and managing director of GM South Africa in 2004. In 2007, he became executive vice president of Shanghai GM, the company’s 15-year-old joint venture in China. He was appointed to his procurement role in 2009 and is responsible for GM’s global purchasing, supplier quality, logistics, order fulfillment and supply operations.
According to automotive expert John Henke, president of consultancy Planning Perspectives: “Socia has had a profound impact on GM. He has improved relations GM has with its suppliers worldwide and he will be particularly missed by suppliers in North America.
“He already has experience in China and his tough but easy management style will be well suited there, so he should fit into his new role very well. He will be responsible for the future growth of the company as the next five to 10 years will be critical. The biggest concern for the person filling Socia’s role will be to continue the changes he has brought into supplier relationships and increase trajectory.”
In this year’s edition of the North American Automotive OEM – Tier 1 Supplier Working Relations Index, produced by Henke, GM continued to improve supplier relationships and Henke highlighted Socia’s important role.
Kevin Wale joined GM in 1975 and moved to Singapore in 1998, responsible for GM’s Asia Pacific operations. After a couple of years in the UK, he became president and managing director in 2005 of the GM China Group.
GM has increased annual sales from 560,000 units in 2005 to 2.5 million units in 2011.