Born in 1953 in Wilmington, Del., and grew up in Richmond, Va. Served as president of his high school class and of his fraternity at Duke University. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1975, he received an MBA from Harvard in 1977.
Wagoner's first post-graduate job with GM was in the New York treasurer's office, where he displayed a dazzling knack for numbers. Transferred to the company's Brazilian headquarters in 1980, where he quickly earned a promotion to CFO. Later served the company in Canada, Switzerland and again in Brazil. He finally arrived in Detroit as CFO in 1992, at the age of 39.
Since becoming GM's CEO in 2000, the percentage of light vehicles the company manufactures has slid from 29% to 22%a decline experts cite as an example of the company's inability to adapt to shifting consumer demand. The company posted a $15.5 billion loss in the second quarter of 2008.
Appointed President and CEO of GM in 2000, at age 47. He was the youngest person ever to take the helm of the behemoth automaker
Received a reported $14.4 million in compensation in 2007. Has since agreed to work for $1 a year in a nod to the company's financial turmoil and the size of the package the Big Three is requesting from Washington
Drove a Chevy Malibu hybrid to this week's hearings after fielding criticism for arriving at November's hearings in a private jet
Quotes from Wagoner:
"A hero is not the person who budgets three and makes four. The hero is someone who rallies the team to shoot for 15 and makes 9."
(Speaking to Stanford Business School students on Feb. 13, 2004, on the importance of "stretching" by setting ambitious goals)
"What exposes us to failure now is not our product lineup or business plan or our long-term strategy. What exposes us now is the global financial crisis."
(Testifying before Congress on Nov. 19)
"We learned a lot." (n the bright side of November's hearings, in which the Big Three's top executives were lambasted for requesting a bailout despite, in the eyes of many, arriving without plan for long-term profitability; from a prepared statement before the Senate on Dec. 4)
] "I'm not in charge of Big Three market share. I'm in charge of Big One market share, and our goal is to grow. You have to ask the other two guys what their strategy is. We focus on how we can grow share, and we really don't care who we take it from."
(Speaking to FORTUNE, during the 2003 Tokyo auto show)
"Just add that to the list of the other million things where we probably made the wrong call."
(Business Week, Feb. 1, 1999)
Quotes about Wagoner:
"He was young, but it didn't worry me. It was an easy call."
(Jack Smith, then-CEO of GM, on promoting Wagoner to the company's CFO position in 1992 at age 39)
"[He] has paved the way for a better world. He sets the bar for the winners who will follow in the years to come."
(Mass Transit, 2004)
Next Alan Mulally, Ford