Former Southfield resident
is being groomed by GM.
Special to the Jewish News
ric Feldstein is on the career track that could some
day make him the first Jewish president or even
CEO of General Motors Corporation.
Feldstein is the recently appointed chairman of
the board and president of General Motors Acceptance
Corporation (GMAC). He oversees GMAC's global financing,
insurance and mortgage operations, and serves as chairman of
the GMAC executive committee and the GMAC mortgage
Feldstein turned 44 in May, giving him a solid two decades
until he reaches GM's mandatory retirement age. That's plen-
ty of time to continue his rise through GM corporate ranks.
GM Chairman Rick Wagoner said, "Eric brings a wealth of
experience to GMAC. He's leading GMAC and its diversified
business operations towards another great year of earning
GMAC's Eric Feldstein
growth performance. His previous assignments certainly put
him in a position to take GMAC to the next level."
Feldstein was GM's treasurer from June 2001 until his cur-
travels between offices in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, St. Louis and the GMAC
rent appointment last November. He is not the first Jew to serve as GM's treas-
insurance office in North Carolina.
urer — Meyer L. Prentis held the post from 1919 to 1951.
Born in Brookline, Mass., in 1959, Feldstein's family moved to the New York
But, perhaps more significantly, three men who went on to become CEOs of
area by the time he was 7. He earned his bachelor's from Columbia College in
GM held the treasurer's post: Roger Smith, Tom Murphy and Dick Gerstenberg.
1981 and graduated from Harvard Business School in 1985.
Indeed, five of the last seven GM CEOs started their GM careers by working in
After graduation from Columbia, he "got a job with GM in the treasurer's
the New York office of the treasurer.
office in New York, right out of college, as a computer systems analyst. GM had
During Feldstein's term as treasurer, he also served as vice president of finance,
just acquired a mini-computer system and they were hiring different experts. It
responsible for GM's worldwide treasury operations and the Detroit-based con-
was a great opportunity.
troller's staff and worldwide tax staff. He was appointed GM corporate treasurer
"Fortunately, I had completed my concentration in computers at Columbia. I
in November 1997 and was made a GM vice president the following month
wasn't really a systems engineer, although I had taken some courses and gone to
with responsibility for GM's global treasury operations in New York, Detroit,
engineering school," said Feldstein.
Brussels and Singapore.
Within two years, GM sent Feldstein to Harvard for his MBA under the GM
He oversaw capital planning, business development and analysis, risk manage-
Fellowship Program. After graduation, he returned to GM's New York treasurer's
ment, worldwide pension funding and -analysis, worldwide banking, and over-
office and began his meteoric rise.
seas and domestic finance.
Feldstein acknowledges that's pretty heady stuff for a guy who joined GM in
the treasurer's office in 1981 on the basis of his computer systems knowledge.
Within 10 years, he was in Brussels as regional treasurer for Europe.
He returned to New York in 1993 as assistant treasurer and in March 1996
began his first stint with GMAC when he was named executive vice president
and chief financial officer and chairman of the GMAC mortgage group. That's
the assignment that brought Feldstein and his family to Oakland County.
The Feldsteins lived in Southfield. He had "rented a place in Farmington
Hills. But my wife and kids had friends in the Southfield Jewish community, so
that's where we moved." They were active members of Young Israel of Southfield
and he often served as chazan.
His home is now in Manhattan. He has an office in New York and maintains
a more spartan office in GM's World Headquarters in the Renaissance Center in
Detroit. "The family pictures are in the New York office," he said. That is his
base, although he is usually there only six or seven days a month because he also
Feldstein led GM's diversification and development into Eastern Europe, overseeing
$150 million in GM financing in Poland and Hungary. He was the GM point
man, steering GM's course through the European monetary system, including the
devaluation of the British pound and Italian lira.
"That called for a major realignment. To be in a large foreign exchange position
during this volatile period was challenging, especially with so much turmoil in the
foreign exchange market," said Feldstein.
How solid was his judgment? During the depths of the North American financial
crisis in 1991-93, GM Europe posted record earnings.
When he returned to the United States to serve as assistant treasurer under the
first woman to hold that position, he became involved in the auto giant's strategic
side, dealing with mergers and acquisitions, investor relations and capital planning.
During Feldstein's first assignment at GMAC, he played a key role in diversifying
GM's financial services strategy, a significant contributor to GM earnings today.
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