International: GM moves Cervone to top Europe role

ZURICH: General Motors has posted financial communications head Tony Cervone to Switzerland in the most senior European PR role, following a senior staff reshuffle.

Cervone, who has acted as director of executive and financial communications at GM’s headquarters in Detroit since 2001, is moving to Zurich to become vice-president of GM Europe communications.

He succeeds Marc Beckers, who is in turn taking up the Detroit-based role of V-P of GM product communications.

The moves come as overall V-P of communications Steve Harris ponders retirement.

Harris said he had been considering retirement since early last year, but had been persuaded to stay by GM CEO Rick Waggoner.

He stressed that the staff changes are unrelated to his possible retirement this year.

Cervone’s responsibilities in the US will be split between executive director of internal communications Gary Grates and V-P of GM’s North American communications Tom Kowaleski.

Harris said Grates will take on executive communications duties, while Kowaleski takes on product and regulatory issues-related communications.

Industry speculation suggests the expansion of their duties could make Kowaleski and Grates leading candidates to replace Harris as and when he decides to leave.

Executive director of corporate communications Edd Snyder has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Harris.

Harris said bringing Beckers to Detroit would give staff a wider perspective on GM PR issues around the world.

‘We’re trying hard to globalise the function by having him here,’ Harris explained.

Beckers is expected to stay in Detroit for three years, while Cervone is likely to stay in Europe for two to three years, Harris said.

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