Last week, General Motors announced several leadership changes, including the movement of Steve Kiefer from vice president of Global Powertrain to vice president of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. Automotive News describes being the head of GM supplier relations as an “eternal hot seat,” which Kiefer is more than prepared to occupy.
Kiefer rejoined GM in the summer of 2013 after a lengthy stint with supplier Delphi, where he served as the company’s head of powertrain operations. He began his career with GM in 1983 and when GM sold Delphi in 1999, he stayed with the supplier and filled several different leadership positions.
GM has historically patchy relationships with many of its suppliers, something now former supply chain boss Grace Lieblein has been actively working to improve since she was moved to the position in 2012. Suppliers have still complained that GM executives and low-level buyers are not on the same page, AN says, which can cause confusion in the automaker’s purchasing sector.
Kiefer will be responsible for remedying this problem by driving the supplier-relations message from the top to the bottom ranks of the company, ensuring all employees are on the same page. Out of the six major automakers in North America, GM’s purchasing operations were rated the worst by suppliers. They noted the leadership was good but “poor execution by buyers who interface with suppliers on a daily basis,” hindered the relationship.