GM's North American comms head to switch to consultant

DETROIT: Gary Grates, VP of North American communications for General Motors, will switch to a consulting role with the automaker effective July 1.

DETROIT: Gary Grates, VP of North American communications for General Motors, will switch to a consulting role with the automaker effective July 1.

Grates, who has been commuting from his New York home to GM?s Detroit headquarters since joining the company in late 2003, said he requested the change.

Family health issues made moving to Detroit unlikely in the near future, so the company complied when Grates asked for the change.

?We wanted to be able to use Gary?s expertise on a consulting basis,? said Tom Kowaleski, VP global communications.

Grates will consult in the areas of executive communications, internal communications, and sales and marketing communications.

?We will be determining where his outside counsel can best be utilized in those three areas? Kowaleski said.

Kowaleski will assume Grates? former duties of overseeing GM North American communications.

This new communications structure will mirror GM?s senior management structure in terms of North American responsibility. GM CEO Rick Waggoner earlier this year took on responsibility for running GM?s North American operations.

Grates will initially consult only for GM, he said.

?I'm very, very happy that General Motors has been very open and terrific with this whole situation,? Grates said. ?In today?s world, work-family balance is very important.?

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