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Travis Hester named president of General Motors of Canada

Written by Norris McDonald

Stephen K. Carlisle to leave Oshawa, become president of Cadillac and senior VP of GM

An Australian has replaced a Canadian as the president of General Motors of Canada.

GM announced in Detroit today that Stephen K. Carlisle, the Woodstock-born executive who first joined the company as a co-op student at the Oshawa truck plant, has been appointed senior vice-president of General Motors and president of Cadillac.

GM also announced that Travis Hester (see photo above), a native of Australia who is currently vice-president, Global Product Programs, will replace Carlisle as president and managing director, GM Canada.

In announcing the promotions, GM President Dan Ammann said the moves were made because of challenges facing the manufacturer.

“Looking forward, the world is changing rapidly,” Ammann said, “and beginning with the launch of the new (Cadillac) XT4, it is paramount that we capitalize immediately on the opportunities that arise from this rate of change.”

As GM Canada president, Carlisle led a resurgence of the GM Canada franchise. In 2017, GM was No. 1 in automotive retail sales in Canada, with Buick, GMC and Cadillac setting sales records.

“The potential for Cadillac across the globe is incredible and I’m honored to be chosen to be a part of mapping that future,” said Carlisle, who’s a huge hockey fan and enjoys playing recreational hockey.

“I look forward to building on our current momentum as we continue on our mission to position Cadillac at the pinnacle of luxury.”

According to his company bio, Carlisle began his GM career in 1982 as an industrial engineering co-op student at the Oshawa Truck Assembly Plant. Over the course of his career, Carlisle held a number of senior leadership positions that took him around the world,  including vice president, Global Product Planning (2010-2014); vice president, U.S. Sales Operations (2010); and president and managing director, Southeast Asia Operations (2007-2010).

And he’s been a busy man in his native land. In addition to running GM, Carlisle is currently serving on the board of the Ontario Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity; the Dean’s Advisory Council, University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering, and he’s chair of the Advanced Technology Committee of Canadian Automotive Partnership Council.

He’s former Chair of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association (2014 to 2016).

Carlisle also holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo and a Master in Business Administration from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Hester, who earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from Latrobe University in Victoria, Australia, in 1994, began his career with GM the next year as a technical support engineer for GM Holden. He moved to the U.S. in 2005.

Since then, Hester held engineering positions in both the U.S. and China, including chief engineer for several global premium luxury vehicles like the Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse and the Chevrolet Sonic.

Hester became vice president, Global Product Programs, in 2016.