DETROIT: General Motors is revamping its communications team with several promotions and the addition of 20 comms positions as it plugs into an electric future.
The addition of leadership roles across its global communications team aims to lead the company to a sustainable future, said Dave Roman, VP of corporate communications at General Motors. Categories for the new roles include internal communications, innovation and growth, sustainability and diversity and inclusion.
The decision comes after GM hired more than 20 people to its comms team last year across manufacturing and product development, bringing the total headcount of the team to “slightly over 150,” Roman said.
He noted that additional communications support is in line with the company’s announcement to transform to fully-electric by 2035, its push to power vehicles with bespoke software technology and the release of new products.
“The [goal is] to project where some of these businesses will be going and getting ahead to [bring in] comms resources in the beginning stages when the strategies are being developed instead of after they're already formed,” Roman said.
As GM fills out the 20 additional roles in the coming months, most of which are new, the company has reconfigured its comms teams and titles to adjust for new business and technology, including creating dedicated teams for commercial vehicle divisions like BrightDrop.
Under the new structure, growth and innovation communications will fall under corporate communications, led by Roman; Joe Jacuzzi, VP of vehicle brand communications for Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac, will oversee technology communications; and Terry Rhadigan, VP of communications operations and corporate giving, will lead internal communications and corporate giving, DE&I and sustainability communications.
All report to Craig Buchholz, SVP of global communications and corporate giving at GM.
Daniel Roberts, who joined GM as global innovation and growth communications lead in March, has transitioned to a new role within the organization as head of communications for BrightDrop, the tech startup spun out of GM’s in-house incubator. There, he will be responsible for both internal and external communications, including media strategy, issues management, employee communications, sponsored content partnerships, brand awareness and executive visibility for the executive leadership team.
Roberts will help build out BrightDrop's communications team. He reports to Juli Huston-Rough, executive director, GM brand, innovation and growth, digital business communications. GM is searching for someone to replaceme Roberts in his previous role.
General Motors’ communications team will continue to work from wherever they choose, in accordance with its “work appropriately” policy, and headquarters will remain in Detroit.
The moves come as GM pushes further into electric vehicles, digital transformation and technology. For instance, the company announced on January 11 it will launch a website called CarBravo to help U.S. based GM dealers market and sell used cars online. Earlier this month, GM also struck a deal with Walmart and FedEx to provide them with thousands of BrightDrop electric delivery vans.
As those businesses grow, GM’s leadership aims to get ahead of the curve rather than stretch existing employees thin, Roman said.
“A lot of the development we have now [is for] new vehicles coming into the brands, our new battery platform Ultium, as well as our software platform Ultifi,” he says. “[Our communications] is far more technology driven than perhaps we've talked about in the past.”
Despite the shortage of semiconductor chips that has depleted vehicle inventories, General Motors exceeded investors’ expectations in Q3 2021, reporting $26.78 billion in revenue, compared to the $26.51 billion estimate. However, its top-line revenue declined year-over-year, as the company reported $35.48 billion in 2020. GM’s adjusted earnings before interest and taxes amounted to $2.92 billion, significantly lower than the $5.28 billion the year prior.