General Motors Corp. Purchasing chief Bo Andersson, who created a global procurement organization while attempting to rebuild tattered supplier relations, left the auto maker unexpectedly in mid-June and potentially could become the new chairman of the board at Russian car builder OJSC GAZ.

GAZ has appointed Andersson, 53, the board's chief consultant and adviser on engineering and was expected to join the board by this month. GAZ says it needs Andersson's expertise in solving restructuring problems, creating a new model range and boosting quality.

GM names Robert Socia, 55, a veteran of the auto maker's international operations, to succeed Andersson as global purchasing chief. He has served most recently as executive vice president of Shanghai General Motors Co. Ltd. in China.

Socia also led the purchasing unit of an unsuccessful 3-year alliance with Fiat Auto Group that cost GM $2 billion in 2003. He joined GM in 1975. Prior to his current assignment, he served as president and managing director of GM South Africa between 2004 and 2007.

GM operates one of the largest purchasing organizations in the world, buying some $45 billion annually in direct materials for vehicle assembly. The group has more than 6,000 employees in 47 countries and purchases materials from 3,300 suppliers globally.

Andersson took the reins of global purchasing at GM in 2001. A GM purchasing spokesman says Andersson did not leave under government pressure to thin the top management ranks.

A native of Sweden, Andersson began his career as a manager with Saab AB in 1987, eventually working his way up to vice president of purchasing for Saab in 1990.

Returning to Europe makes sense for Andersson, whose wife is Swedish and often spends summer months there with their two daughters.

Andersson transitioned from Saab to GM in 1993 as executive director-Worldwide Purchasing Electrical Group.

He became GM's vice president of global purchasing and supply chain in 2001, taking the top purchasing job after the retirement of Harold Kutner, who replaced Richard Wagoner, who later went on to become GM CEO.

Wagoner replaced the infamous Jose Ignacio “Inaki” Lopez, who dealt ruthlessly with suppliers and created a culture of distrust that, some say privately, still exists to some extent today.

Suppliers say Andersson often was harsh but fair, and they credit him for improving the chain of communication.

In interviews with Ward's, Andersson emphasized the need to “take emotion out of the equation” in a supplier dispute. Instead, he would focus intently, even zealously, on computer-generated metrics that charted in great detail exactly how suppliers perform with regard to price, quality and delivery. “Bo knows data” became an industry catchphrase.

Prior to his automotive career, Andersson served as an officer in the Swedish army after graduation from Sweden's Military Academy. He also ran competitively as a young man and frequently used running analogies in speeches to suppliers to encourage hard work and a marathon mentality.

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