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A few years ago I did some work for Hyundai Motor America in Fountain Hills, CA and had the opportunity to work with Joel Ewanick on several projects... OK, work with him may be a stretch... I got to go to meetings where I reported results to Joel and his team. I was impressed by Mr. Ewanick's willingness to make clear decisions and move forward on completing a project.
Then in 2010 I was brought into Hyundai's headquarters and met with Joel Ewanick and a few of his associates on a project involving social media marketing services for a group of Hyundai dealerships in the Northeast US. At the time, I had a team of social marketers that we had put together while working with Arizona State University in conjunction with ADP Human Resources. They were a great team of people and Joel was quick to recognize the advantages of hiring recent college graduates with a ton of social networking savvy to represent the dealerships each one was assigned to, all supervised by a couple of car guys. I was struck by Joel's ability to quickly evaluate, verify and make a decision to move forward (again). After getting the green light and approval from Ewanick to start enrolling Hyundai dealers in the program, which he was paying for, Joel left Hyundai less than two weeks later... Hyundai quickly cancelled the program I was working on and I read in Automotive News how Joel Ewanick had gone to Nissan North America headquarters in Nashville.
Having seen quite a few executives leave both Hyundai and Kia at various times, it became apparent to me that the Koreans can be quite tough to work for. So, it really did not surprise me to see Joel Ewanick leave Hyundai... But then, a short time later he leaves Nissan to take what is probably the most prestigious automotive marketing position in the world; the role of Global Marketing Boss at General Motors. Wow, talk about capitalizing on his success at Hyundai!
When Joel Ewanick was summarily ousted from GM last July, I was disappointed but not as surprised as many people. I had always wondered how Joel's fast paced "get it done now" style of management would fit in with the morass of GM bureaucracy that has stymied many other hard charging executives as well. Heck, just read Bob Lutz's book about GM titled "The Car Guys versus The Bean Counters" and you will get a sense of what Joel faced taking the Marketing Leadership role at General Motors. I too have read all the scuttlebutt about Joel's dealings with European Soccer team sponsorships, but I do not believe that is what ultimately got him fired at GM... In my opinion the Soccer Sponsorships made for a great excuse to get rid of somebody who shook up the established hierarchy at GM.
The Wall Street Journal published an article today about Joel Ewanick's new role at Fisker Automotive... Here is an excerpt:
Written by Jonathan Welsh on Wall Street Journal
Fisker Automotive Inc., a maker of plug-in-hybrid luxury cars, hired former General Motors Co. marketing chief Joel Ewanick as interim head of global sales. The 52-year-old Ewanick succeeds Richard Beattie, 58, who is retiring from the post.
Fisker said Ewanick has been working for the company as a consultant for some time and will take over for Beattie until the car maker finds a replacement. Fisker hired Beattie in December. A longtime industry executive, Beattie previously worked for Ford Motor Co., Mazda and Jaguar.
Ewanick will join Tony Posawatz, the former chief engineer of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, who left GM in July and was named Fisker’s chief executive in August. GM fired Ewanick in July over his handling of a problematic European-soccer sponsorship program.
Fisker is rolling out its first model, the Karma plug-in-hybrid sedan, which costs $102,000 and up, while developing a less-expensive second model called the Atlantic.
Image Credit: Getty Images
Source: The Wall Steet Journal