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Post GM Chapter 11: Holden feels the freedom

Pressing on: Holden chairman and managing director Alan Batey says Holden is sticking to its business plan in the wake of the GM shake-up.

Holden boss says Australian arm has emerged with more autonomy after GM tribulations

Holden logo8 Sep 2009


THE full impact of the post-Chapter 11 ‘New GM’ could take months or even years to be felt at Holden, according to GM Holden’s new chairman and managing director, Alan Batey.

Apart from a simplification of the management structure and processes, the problems of the parent company have had little impact so far, he said, noting that if anything, Holden appeared to have emerged with even more autonomy.

Furthermore, the Australian arm of GM has made headway over the last few weeks with the successful launch of the Cruze small car range, while working on giving consumers a more appealing product in the form of the re-engineered V6 Commodore series.

“It’s early days,” Mr Batey told GoAuto at the MY10 VE Commodore V6 engine update in Melbourne.

“I would say that, the way we’ve laid it out, there is more autonomy than perhaps we’ve had previously.

“Here at Holden, however, we’ve always operated under a separate brand with a different portfolio of products – it’s been a mixture of imported and more importantly locally produced – so nothing has changed overnight that has radically turned our business upside down.

“But the way the structure has been laid out, it is (now) a much simpler structure, it’s a much flatter structure.

“For example, I report directly to Nick Reilly and Nick reports directly to Fritz Henderson. That’s the management structure.

“What has changed is that previously we had what we called a matrix structure where we had a Leader One and a Leader Two. This effectively meant that if you were, say, the head of engineering you would be reporting to the head of engineering and then you would be reporting to your local manager or MD such as Mark Reuss or myself.

“Now that’s been flipped the other way, whereby we still have the global reporting, but we also have local reporting through execution. And that makes it much simpler for people to understand. It also makes for faster decisions being made.

“But I think we’ll be able to tell you a lot more in about six months or so. The early signs are really encouraging. The employees are very excited, and the future is very encouraging.

“And our plans here have not changed as you know. Through the challenging times we have just kept on going full steam ahead, and I hope that we’ve demonstrated that.

“We really have been working in a very difficult environment on execution, and we are absolutely executing. Our dealers are really charged up, and so is the organisation, and I thing we have seen the worst of the global financial crisis.

“The last three months have been really encouraging. We’ve got a really good order intake, and three vehicles that are really, really firing on all cylinders, being Commodore, Captiva and Cruze, in three big segments of the market.

“So, no, I’d say that things are actually looking really good. We’re not overcomplicating this. The business did not change from one-way to another, but it’s really been this continuity.

“Over time, in about six months, that will be a good time to sit down and say ‘these are things that have really changed and how we do things differently’.

“At the moment the good news is that the organisation is not paralysed, but moving forward with everything that we’ve got on our plan is not waiting on people to make decisions, and is not waiting on approvals, and we didn’t need to submit a new business plan, and we didn’t have to create new structures. We just needed to focus on execution.”

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