Profile: Dan Ammann

New Zealander Dan Ammann is to take over the CFO post at General Motors from fellow Kiwi Chris Liddell.
New Zealander Dan Ammann is to take over the CFO post at General Motors from fellow Kiwi Chris Liddell.

Ambition, hard work and talent took Dan Ammann from Eureka, just outside Hamilton, to the top finance job at giant American car maker General Motors.

The 38-year-old grew up on a farm in the Waikato and after schooling in Eureka and Hamilton Ammann studied management at Waikato University, graduating in 1994 with a Bachelor of Management Studies with first class honours.

''He was a very bright kid,'' mum Diane said from the Ammanns' Waikato farm this morning, ''and he's always been very ambitious.''

His career in New Zealand investment banking began when Chris Liddell, the Kiwi he is succeeding at GM, hired him as an analyst and associate in the banking team at Credit Suisse First Boston in 1993.

''Danny is a very smart guy,'' said Rob Hamilton, head of investment banking at the firm now known as First NZ Capital.

''People don't find it [Ammann taking over from Liddell] surprising because you have got two very talented people there. Knowing Liddell and his future planning I suspect he had an eye on the future CFO. Clearly he was succession planning for his retirement,'' Hamilton said.

Someone who was surprised though was his mum. Diane Ammann said her son had called home yesterday with the news.

''We are very excited for him. It's lovely.''

She said his family had no idea that he would achieve this level of success but the family was thrilled. Dan was a ''low key sort of person'' but ambitious, she said.

A local financier who worked with Ammann during his four years New Zealand said not only is the Kiwi ambitious, but he is very determined.

''He always worked incredibly hard. He's relatively self-effacing but he is outgoing. He is not a wallflower.''

After leaving New Zealand in 1997 for New York, Ammann continued working at Credit Suisse before shifting to Morgan Stanley where he scaled the corporate ladder, being appointed a managing director of the bank in 2004.

''He was made an MD at Morgan Stanley pretty young. He's a very capable guy,'' an industry source said.

At Morgan Stanley he covered the automotive industry and General Motors was one of his clients. He spent 11 years with Morgan Stanley and also spent ''plenty of time flying back and forth to Detroit,'' the source said.

In March last year he shifted from the bank to General Motors, appointed the giant carmaker's treasurer reporting to Chris Liddell.

The pair were the public face of GM's initial public offering.

Ammann, who turns 39 next month, is married with two daughters, and is a keen sailor and fisherman, a local friend of Ammann said.