HR Shakeup at GM

General Motors announced in a statement yesterday that it is replacing the executive in charge of human resources effective immediately, “as it struggles with a string of embarrassing recalls that have led to congressional hearings and federal investigations,” according to the Associated Press.

John J. Quattrone takes over as senior vice president of global human resources for the car maker. Quattrone, formerly the executive director of human resources for global product development, purchasing and supply chain organizations, succeeds Melissa A. Howell who is leaving GM to pursue other interests.

“John brings to the job a deep and rich breadth of experience across all levels of the enterprise,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. “This background is invaluable as we create lasting change that puts the customer at the center of how we work and how we measure ourselves going forward.”

Quattrone received his Bachelor of Science degree from Le Moyne College and earned a Master of Science degree from West Virginia University. Quattrone serves on the board of directors of American Society of Employers and previously served on the board of directors of Health Grades, Inc.

Barra praised Howell’s contribution at a key time for the company. “Through Melissa’s passion, the values that make up today’s GM are now becoming a central part of how we develop and guide our employees around the world,” said Barra. “We are deeply grateful for her dedication to GM and all that she did to help build a stronger HR function to support our people and business.”

Howell joined GM in 1990. She was named senior vice president of global human resources in February 2013.

GM is in the midst of a crisis over safety of some of its older-model vehicles, the AP reports, including 2.6 million small cars worldwide that have been recalled to replace faulty ignition switches. GM says at least 13 deaths have been linked to the switch problem. Family members of those killed say the death toll is much higher.

GM spokesman Greg Martin told the AP the move is not linked to the recalls. He attributed them to CEO Mary Barra, who took over in January, making her own hires in key positions. “The changes are part of what any company expects during periods of transition, and Mary is building her own team,” Martin said.

But in response to the recall debacle, Barra also promised employees on a company blog that the company’s senior leadership will react quickly to tips from employees about safety problems; GM announced last Thursday a program to recognize and reward employees who speak up when they see something that could affect customer safety.

“This program is an important step toward embedding the customer- and safety-centered culture in every aspect of our business,” Barra said in the blog post.