Williams Grand Prix Holdings is to have a new group CEO from today (Wednesday 28 May), following the announcement that Mike O'Driscoll replaces Alex Burns with immediate effect.
No reason has been given for Burns abrupt departure, although the company thanked him 'for the significant contribution he has made to the business', and wished him well in his future endeavours.
O'Driscoll has been a member of the Williams board for the past couple of years, having previously held the posts of managing director at Jaguar Cars and president of Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover in North America. According to a statement issued from Grove, he has been appointed group CEO at Williams 'to guide the long-term future' of the company.
“Mike has been a valued member of our board since 2011 as a non-executive director and I am delighted that his day-to-day involvement in the company is to significantly increase,” founder and team principal Sir Frank Williams commented, “This new role strengthens the company and will help us achieve our goals both on the race track and in diversification. Mike brings with him significant skills and a wealth of experience. Working with Claire, I am in no doubt that the future of Williams is in safe hands.
The newly created role of group CEO comes as the Williams F1 team and Williams Advanced Engineering unite under a single management structure, and will see O'Driscoll provide support to Sir Frank and new deputy team principal Claire Williams.
“Today's announcement is not only great news for the company, but is further evidence of the execution of our long term strategy for business success,” the latter concluded, “Mike brings with him a unique mix of skills and capabilities and he is a passionate motorsport enthusiast with significant automotive industry experience. I have every confidence that he can drive the business forward to deliver an improved performance for both the Williams F1 Team and Williams Advanced Engineering.”
Burns, meanwhile, leaves after a couple of years in the role of CEO at Williams Grand Prix Holdings, having been appointed in February 2011. Prior to that, he had served as CEO of Williams Grand Prix Engineering from March 2010, having been chief operating officer since May 2005. He joined the Williams operation from a background in the aerospace industry and was made a director of WGPE in 2008. Just last year, he was names as a 'Make it in Great Britain' industry champion, but ended 2012 presiding over a loss of £5m, albeit a figure that could not include a £9.4m pay-out from its F1 activities for accounting reasons.