Jim Taylor has been the CEO of Hummer since October of 2008. Prior to that, he was the General Manager of Cadillac. Since beginning his GM career in 1980 with GM of Canada Limited in Oshawa, Ontario as an industrial engineer, Jim Taylor progressed through several production and purchasing positions, including management positions at Saturn, Adam Opel, Worldwide Purchasing and GM Truck. Taylor was appointed Cadillac General Manager in 2004, and was responsible for the division’s global product, marketing and promotional activities.
Although Taylor is a skilled tactician and engineer, his creative side is exercised through music—he is a concert-level pianist. He also spends free time enjoying the open road on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Question: Describe a specific management crisis you overcame?
Taylor: Well, I think in our specific case, what’s… you know, has become, I think a pretty good, not happy ending but at least a good story so far is our crisis at Cadillac was, you know, we’re literally dying in… in several ways. One [IB] that has loyal and had always bought Cadillacs but pretty much a 100% American and pretty much old and that was in the ‘80s that we continued to lose sales and market shares and we had a serious crisis that arguably the flagship division of General Motors was not… no longer going to be competitive and no longer be the flagship and that isn’t a good situation for GM to be in, obviously, having its, what we call, [IB] division, but what should be setting the phase and what had for the first six or seven years at General Motors, really had an opportunity for people to move up and to sort of land and be the ultimate achievement and success symbol at Cadillac. So, we had a serious crisis and we had… we spend an inconsiderable amount of time, probably if you add it all [IB] a year around 1998 to kind of go back to square one, we evaluate our total business and I mean, total business, all the product and positioning, our brand, what we stood for, our strengths, our weaknesses, sort of the kinds of things that would be talked about in management seminars like this and come to some conclusions with a brand new strategic plan going forward is to what we have to do on all fronts, product, communication, marketing to become viable again to American consumers and not 70 to 80 year old consumers but 35 to 55 year old American consumers that are in the luxury space that had all gone to our competitors, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, [IB] so we had a big challenge and the price tag for that was very very large and a serious commitment to General Motors board standpoint to come up with that kind of investment so… I could go on and the rest of that story but that was probably our biggest crisis in my business. I have been with Cadillac quite awhile and so we set down a course, starting at 1998 that now is… is, you know, 10 years old but for several products [IB], a whole new brand makeover, numerous changes, I could go on for hours about… that to try to set us back on a path and make us viable and successful again so a large and complicated crisis.