DETROIT — Jill Lajdziak, who joined Saturn before its first car was sold and led the division through its demise last month, will retire from General Motors Co. at the end of the year.
Lajdziak, 52, will take vacation time until then, said spokesman John McDonald. In the interim, GM’s Steve Hill, will coordinate the wind-down of the Saturn brand. Hill is GM’s general manager of retail sales support.
GM decided to close Saturn after retailer Penske Automotive Group was unable to complete a deal to buy the brand. GM has stopped all production on Saturn products. The brand will shutter when “dealers are able to sell their inventory and wind their dealerships down,” McDonald said.
Lajdziak grew up in the car business. Her father was a Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealer in a small Wisconsin town. She told Automotive News in a 2008 interview that she remembered helping him wash new cars at the age of 3.
She described her big break into the automotive industry when she interviewed for a job at Procter & Gamble.
“And the interview team said, ‘Where would you like to be in five years?’ Lajdziak recalls. “I said, ‘I want to be working for GM.’ And they said, ‘You ought to go interview with GM.’ I think that was a break for me, because it solidified where I wanted to be."
Lajdziak started at GM in 1980 as a district sales manager with Chevrolet. In 1986, GM made her manager of retailer selection with Saturn. She worked in various executive level jobs with Saturn before becoming general manager in 1999. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a bachelor of arts degree in business marketing and management.
Lajdziak is married with two teenage sons.