2-28-18 3:46 PM EST | Email Article
By Mike Colias 

General Motors Co.'s human-resources chief has left the company after just eight months on the job, the auto maker said Wednesday, an unexpected move coming as the Detroit auto giant continues to seek talent to help reinvent its culture and battle Silicon Valley in an escalating tech race.

Jose Tomas, who joined GM in July 2017 after stints leading HR at health-benefits company Anthem Inc. and Burger King, "has elected to leave the company for personal reasons," a GM spokesman said. Mr. Tomas couldn't be reached for comment.

Mr. Tomas reported to Chief Executive Mary Barra, serving among a small group of executives that forms her inner circle. He was hired last summer to replace the retired John Quattrone, an executive who spent his career at GM and was a confidante of Ms. Barra.

GM said it would name a replacement at a later date.

The swift departure is a rarity under Ms. Barra, whose tenure has been marked by continuity in the executive suite after substantial turnover following GM's 2009 bankruptcy and a series of shake-ups at crosstown rival Ford Motor Co.

The top human-resources job at GM has taken on elevated importance in recent years as the auto maker has worked to change its culture following the bankruptcy and a safety scandal involving a defective ignition switch that was uncovered in 2014.

On top of that, traditional auto makers are scrambling to bring in fresh talent to help them navigate an industry being transformed by driverless cars and other technology that has attracted competition from tech giants, including Alphabet Inc., and startups. GM, for example, two years has hired about 500 people to work at its San Francisco-based Cruise Automation subsidiary, an autonomous-vehicle startup acquired in early 2016.

Ms. Barra, who served as GM's HR chief from 2009 to 2011, has touted an influx of new employees in her four years as CEO. During an investor presentation in November, Ms. Barra said nearly 40% of GM's roughly 77,000 salaried employees have been at the company for fewer than five years.

"As we've hired new people...we've reshaped the company and the skill sets that we need to provide and lead in the transformation areas," she said.

Upon his hiring, Ms. Barra lauded Mr. Tomas' experience managing "a complex global employee base." Before Anthem, Mr. Tomas ran HR and Latin American operations for Burger King.

Write to Mike Colias at Mike.Colias@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 28, 2018 15:46 ET (20:46 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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