Is there a right man for the job at GEC?
Friday 15 March 1996
Despite all the hype surrounding George Simpson, chief executive of Lucas, and a possible move to GEC, reservations remain within and outside the company about whether he is right for the job. Lord Weinstock, patrician head of GEC for 33 years, created a rod for his own back by failing to groom a successor, and now there is probably no ideal candidate to manage such a diverse collection of interests.
What really worries GEC insiders about Mr Simpson is that he is a car industry man - with motor oil in his blood - who would find it difficult to adjust to the defence electronics industry. Walking the corridors of the Ministry of Defence and dealing with politics at the inter-governmental level - which Lord Weinstock did so expertly - would be alien to Mr Simpson.
Nor is everyone so smitten with Mr Simpson's talents. There are those who believe he has failed to deliver what he promised at Lucas. Insiders say he is turning around the automotive division, but is not getting to grips with aerospace. If he cannot change the culture at Lucas, can he really be expected to tackle a much more complex company like GEC?
It may be these very difficulties at Lucas that will lead him to stay. Mr Simpson is no quitter and to leave now might be an admission of failure. His reputation is that of a man who will not leave a job half finished. None of which helps GEC in its search for a successor.
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