Akerson Urges Columbia Business Grads to Life of Service

GM CEO says effective leading is serving family, community and country


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NEW YORK – Leading people and organizations also requires a commitment to serving them, General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson told business school graduates in commencement remarks Sunday at Columbia University.

“What is leadership? Akerson asked. “It’s character, integrity. It’s competence. It’s hard work. It’s making the hard decisions, not just the easy ones. It manifests itself in your relationships, your marriage, your family, your community and your company.”

Akerson, who became GM’s CEO in 2010 following the automaker’s exit from bankruptcy reorganization, said he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and entered the civilian world in the days when the term “misery index” was created.

“And at that time, I tried to formulate a life’s plan that would define who I was. The construct I envisioned was based on what I saw lacking in our society then – leadership and service,” he said. “They go together, hand in glove, because you cannot lead people or an organization without a commitment to serving them as well.”

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets.  GM’s brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.



General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson addressed graduates of the Columbia University Business School on Sunday, May 13, urging graduates to be leaders who also serve the people they lead.