Ed Whitacre is the former chairman and CEO of two major American corporations: General Motors and AT&T. At GM he set a clear vision and mandate - "Design, Build and Sell the World's Best Vehicles" - that continues to this day. As the chief executive of AT&T, Whitacre applied a set of management principles and disciplined growth strategy that would turn the company, originally known as Southwestern Bell, into the largest telecom in the world. Born and raised in Ennis, Texas, Whitacre attended Texas Tech, earning a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. He began his career with the phone company in 1963, as a student engineer in Dallas. In 1990 he was named CEO, and he remained in that leadership position for 17 years. In 2009, the White House appointed him chairman of GM, and he became CEO later that year. Whitacre is actively involved in a number of organizations, including Boy Scouts of America, the United Way and Texas Tech. He is a current or past member of several boards, including Exxon Mobil, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Anheuser-Busch. He is married to Linda Whitacre and they have two daughters, four grandchildren and a really great dog, Lucille.
It was President Obama who reached out to Ed Whitacre to come out of retirement and take over GM in 2008. A down-to-earth, no-nonsense Texas native with a distinctive Texas twang in his voice, Whitacre was reluctant to come out of retirement to work at GM.