A former General Motors senior executive spoke openly about the automaker’s culture problems more than 30 years ago, Automotive News reports. The company’s unnecessarily complicated bureaucratic ways and flawed internal culture have been making headlines as of late, following its now widely publicized ignition switch safety recall.
Bill Hoglund led Pontiac in the early 1980s and had ambitions to become CEO eventually. Hoglund was known for being blunt and straight to the point, which set him apart from his colleagues. Ross Perot was also fairly straightforward and known for being a critic of GM after he joined the board of directors in 1984.
Perot was openly against GM chairman Roger Smith and would speak in public about the company’s flawed culture and subsequent issues. He wanted to be more involved in GM’s every day business practices, and approached Hoglund who seemed to also be on the same page as him. Perot once called Hoglund in the heat of his rivalry with Smith to gauge Hoglund’s support of him being more involved with the company. Hoglund reportedly replied: “Ross, I don’t think anyone wants to speak with you about anything at this point. The public bashing of GM and Roger isn’t helping any of us.”
GM eventually paid Perot off to leave the company. However Hoglund may have tarnished his name by aligning with Perot, ruining his chances at becoming CEO. When CEO Jack Smith took over, Hoglund became his “right-hand man,” despite his former bashing of the company’s problematic culture.