Holden CMO steps into interim MD role

Director of sales and marketing, Kristian Aquilina, is appointed interim chairman and managing director, GM Holden, after the departure of Dave Buttner

The leader of GM Holden’s commercial operations and marketing leader, Kristian Aquilina, has been appointed interim chairman and managing director, GM Holden.

Aquilina is succeeding Dave Buttner, who is leaving the company for personal reasons after a 16-month sting.

“With critical groundwork underway, the company will implement an orderly leadership succession,” said GM senior vice-president of international operations, Julian Blissett.

Aquilina was MD of Holden New Zealand from 2015 to mid-2018, before returning to Australia to lead the carmaker’s marketing efforts locally. Following that appointment, he was promoted to the role of executive director of sales, marketing and aftersales earlier in the year. 

“With more than 22 years in the company, he has the experience, the leadership qualities and the deep understanding of the business and the market to lead GM Holden at this important time,” said Blissett.

Blissett thanked Buttner for his leadership of GM Holden, praising his experience and professionalism, both of which, he said, have been significant assets for Holden since his appointment in 2018 during what has been a difficult time for the brand in the local market.

“Not only has he led critical work, he has developed a highly credentialled leadership team, enabling an orderly transition,” Blissett said.

Buttner also paid tribute to his team and dealer partners for the work undertaken to transition Holden to an SUV and ute brand.

“Holden’s focus remains on getting onto the consideration list for SUV and LCV buyers in Australia and New Zealand,” said Buttner. “We have made significant progress in getting the fundamentals right. Now is the right time for me to depart the business, with a strong team in place, to be led by Kristian.”

Aquilina said the business priorities led by Buttner would remain his key focus, following the key priorities laid out for the business.

“While much progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to do,” said Aquilina. “My focus is on providing continuity around the execution of our plans, ensuring the team at Holden, including dealers and partners, continue to focus on our customers.”

Read more: CMO interview: Writing the rulebook for Holden's brand turnaround

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