14th Mar 2013

Former General Motors exec takes the wheel at Navistar

Last week Navistar International Corp promoted its president and chief operating officer, Troy Clarke, to CEO. As a result Navistar shares surged, climbing 23% in the afternoon of the announcement. Clarke’s appointment comes following a difficult year for the truck maker. It suffered a $3 billion loss last year as its revenue dropped 7%.

On April 15th Clarke will take on his new role. He will replace Lewis Campbell, who has been spearheading the turnaround since last August. Campbell became interim CEO after Daniel Ustian’s abrupt retirement. The retirement came soon after the failure of the company’s engine strategy – the engine failed to meet federal emissions standards, repeatedly – and the resulting financial troubles. Campbell has spoken of his hopes for the future “Our turnaround is well underway and is gaining momentum, which is why we are now ready to put a longer-term CEO in place … we can see the end of the runway and it looks very good.”

Clarke (57) comes to the role with many years experience in the automotive industry. After 35 years with General Motors, he joined Navistar in 2010. He was initially President of Asia Pacific Operations, before becoming COO in 2012.

While Clarke’s experience is particularly relevant, the task of turning a troubled company around is not going to be easy.

To best prepare, and anticipate the forthcoming challenges, every new CEO is advised to have a detailed first 100 days plan in place before taking on their new role. Clarke is already working on his “we need to lay out … what we intend to accomplish, quarter by quarter, and then hopefully be standing there at the end of every quarter and hopefully be able to say that we accomplished what we set out to do.” He knows his priorities – setting targets and meeting them.  At First100 we recommend milestones reviews of progress against plan at 30 days, at 60 days, at 90 days. Clarke has outlined his intention for such – in which case he should get off to a running start for a successful first 100 days as CEO of Navistar.

Hilda Goold

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