Dan Akerson, current Chief Executive Officer of General Motors, speaks at Climate One at the Commonwealth Club, discussing the future of General Motors in the era of climate change."
Daniel F. Akerson is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Motors. He joined the company in July, 2009 as a member of the Board of Directors. Akerson and his team have moved quickly to reestablish GM as one of the world’s largest automakers and a lynchpin of manufacturing after the company emerged from bankruptcy in July, 2009 during a period of deep global recession. Under Akerson’s leadership, GM has taken critical steps to transform the company by launching a $23 billion IPO—the largest in history—establishing consistent profitability, gaining market share, improving product quality, investing in manufacturing and job creation, and generating impressive global growth. GM holds a leadership position in the world’s two biggest growth markets, Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRIC) and North America. Akerson has accelerated GM’s efforts to improve the fuel efficiency of its vehicles. GM today has the best line-up of fuel-efficient vehicles in its history, including the Chevrolet Sonic and Cruze Eco, and the Buick Verano and LaCrosse with eAssist technology. GM is pushing to lead in advanced technology and vehicle electrification with products like the Chevrolet Volt, Opel Ampera and an electric version of the Chevrolet Spark. Prior to joining GM, Akerson was a managing director and head of global buyout for The Carlyle Group in Washington, D.C. In this position, Akerson managed more than $50 billion in assets and more than 200 portfolio companies with several hundred thousand employees around the world. He was instrumental in helping Carlyle achieve 30 percent gross internal rates of returns in the firm’s corporate private equity business. Akerson also served as CEO or president of several telecommunications and technology companies, including MCI, Nextel Communications, XO Communication and General Instrument, through periods of explosive growth and dynamic change. Under Akerson’s leadership as chief financial officer and president, MCI doubled its market share. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor of science in engineering, Akerson earned a master’s of science degree in economics from the London School of Economics. Akerson serves on the Boards of the American Express Company and the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation. He also serves on the Tsinghua University School and Economics and Management Advisory Board, the International Business Leaders Advisory Council of Shanghai, and is a member of the Business Council. He received the T.C. and Elizabeth Cooke Business Medallion from the College of William & Mary in 2004. He co-chaired the “Leaders to Serve the Nation” capital campaign, which raised a record $254 million for the U.S. Naval Academy. Akerson chairs his family’s Blue Earth Foundation, which is dedicated to providing financial assistance to programs serving young people. In 2011, he was named “Humanitarian of the Year” by So Others Might Eat (SOME) which serves the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Gregory Dalton is chief operating officer at the Commonwealth Club of California and Director of The Club's Climate 1 Initiative. He previously was international editor at The Industry Standard magazine, an editor for the Associated Press in New York, and a correspondent in China and Canada for the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper.
Proficient in both Mandarin and Cantonese, he is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
U.S. corporation, the world's largest automotive manufacturer for most of the 20th century and into the 21st. It was founded in 1908 by William C. Durant to consolidate several motorcar companies, and it soon included the makers of Buick, Oldsmobile (discontinued in 2004), Cadillac, and Oakland (later Pontiac) autos. GM acquired the Chevrolet auto company in 1918 and formed General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) in 1919. By 1929 GM had passed Ford Motor Co. to become the leading U.S. auto manufacturer and had added such overseas operations as Vauxhall of England. GM bought Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) in 1984, and in 1986 it bought Hughes Aircraft Co. (renamed Hughes Electronic Corp.). GM founded a new automotive division, Saturn, in 1984 to compete with Japanese automobiles. In renewing its focus on the automotive business, GM spun off EDS in 1996, sold portions of Hughes in 1997, and became the sole owner of Saab Automobile AB in 2000.