August 22, 2014

Retired GM Vice Chair Bob Lutz, BS 61, MBA 62, to Speak at Haas and Receive Leading Through Innovation Award

Bob Lutz
Retired GM Vice Chair Bob Lutz

Bob Lutz, BS 61, MBA 62, retired vice chairman of General Motors, will be honored with the Haas School's Leading Through Innovation Award at the school's annual Haas Gala Nov. 4 in San Francisco.

Lutz also will speak to the Haas community as part of the Dean's Speaker Series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, in the Wells Fargo Room. Details on how to register will be available on the Dean's Speaker Series website as the date approaches.

Lutz will be recognized for his bold leadership driving creativity and change in the U.S. automobile industry at a critical time in its history as well as his many achievements in emphasizing the power of innovation to transform a firm.

The annual Leading Through Innovation Award was established to celebrate Haas alumni who embody the school’s emphasis on innovative leadership and serve as exemplars to others in the Berkeley-Haas community.

Lutz, recently rehired by GM as a consultant and adviser, has grabbed headlines all year with his new book, Car Guys vs. Bean Counters. In his book, Lutz describes his return to GM as vice chairman of product development in 2001 after launching his career with the automaker in 1963. In that role, Lutz came up with the idea of the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

In addition to attending the Gala and speaking at Haas, Lutz will announce the winners of an undergraduate social media competition for a Volt Raffle in the Haas courtyard on Friday, Nov. 4. The raffle will benefit the Center for the Young Entrepreneurs at Haas, a program to help prepare more financially disadvantaged youth to attend college.

Though he considers the Volt his "crowning achievement," Lutz successfully pushed innovation and creativity at four different major automakers during his 47-year career. His accomplishments also include overseeing development of America's best-selling car in the early- and mid-1990s (Ford Taurus) and the most powerful and most expensive American car (Dodge Viper).

The key focus to innovation is maintaining a razor-sharp focus on the customer, Lutz maintains. He also has been a vocal advocate of an open corporate culture that allows plenty of room for discussion and debate.

Although he has also been a vocal critic of business school education, Lutz does believe there is a place for leadership education. "If you are teaching leadership, the innovation part follows automatically," he says. "If a person merely leads the organization along the path it’s already on, she becomes an administrator of the status quo but not a leader. The definition of a good leader is a change agent: Leaders drive change."

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