IR head Arickx to lead GM comms on interim basis with Bingol out

General Motors comms leader Selim Bingol has left the automaker as it deals with the public outcry over its 10-year delay in recalling Chevrolet Cobalts with malfunctioning ignition systems, according to numerous reports.

Selim Bingol
Selim Bingol

DETROIT: General Motors executive director of communications and investor relations Randy Arickx is leading the automaker’s communications in the interim after Selim Bingol, SVP of global comms and public policy, left the company on Monday.

Greg Martin, executive director of communications at GM, said the company will name a permanent replacement for Bingol at a later date.

"We’re conducting an external search, and the search will take as long as it is required to find the right person," he explained.

Martin said he will continue to handle media and corporate communications, while executive director Terry Rhadigan will continue to lead product communications and director Katie McBride manages internal communications.

Arickx "will serve as the [communications] leader on an interim basis," added Martin.

GM announced on Monday that Bingol was leaving the company to pursue other interests, effective immediately. 

He joined the automaker in 2010 as SVP of global communications after serving as SVP of corporate comms at AT&T. The public policy portion of his role was added two years later. Bingol also previously served as an SVP and senior partner at FleishmanHillard in one of various positions he held at the Omnicom Group firm.

He oversaw GM’s corporate, global products, and brand communications in his most recent job, as well as its federal, state, and international government relations and public policy work. Bingol was also chairman of the GM Foundation.

His departure comes as the automaker deals with the public outcry over its decade-long delay in recalling Chevrolet Cobalts with faulty ignition switches. The issue has been linked to 13 deaths.

However, Martin told the Associated Press that Bingol’s departure was not a result of the recall crisis, saying Barra, who has been in the CEO role for three months, was making her own hires for key positions.

Last week, GM placed two engineers on paid leave. Their roles were connected to the hold-up in issuing a recall after discovering ignition-switch issues in 2004.

A GM statement about Bingol’s departure noted that he "guided the communications around GM’s 2010 initial public offering, the largest in history at that time, as well as several new products that have received widespread acclaim for quality, styling, and performance."

"We appreciate [Bingol’s] service and for his helping tell the GM story during one of the most exciting periods in the company’s history," Barra said, in a statement.

The carmaker also said on Monday that Melissa Howell, SVP of global human resources, was leaving the company to pursue other interests. It named John Quattrone to replace her in the role.

The Detroit Free Press has also reported that former GM top lobbyist and Cadillac division leader Bob Ferguson is expected to take on more DC-based responsibilities.

Earlier this month, GM hired crisis communications expert Jeff Eller shortly after he left Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ global crisis practice. It also retained Washington-based lawyer Kenneth Feinberg to explore compensation for the families of accident victims. Feinberg has managed compensation for the bereaved after events such as the mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and at Virginia Tech, as well as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  

This story was updated on April 15 with more information about GM retaining Eller and Feinberg.

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