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Goodyear names new chief financial officer in executive leadership changes

By Jim Mackinnon
Beacon Journal business writer

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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is revamping a significant portion of its top executive leadership.

Laura Thompson, 49, a 30-year Goodyear veteran, is being promoted to executive vice president and chief financial officer, succeeding Darren Wells, who was named to head Goodyear’s largest overseas business unit, the company announced Monday.

Thompson, an Akron native whose father and grandfather worked for the company, will become the company’s highest ranking senior executive and is Goodyear’s first female CFO.

She currently is vice president, finance. In late 2007, Thompson took over development oversight of the building of Goodyear’s new headquarters on Innovation Way, which opened earlier this year on the street formerly called Martha Avenue.

As part of that, she also was involved in the redevelopment project of the former Goodyear campus on East Market Street. She was named an officer of the corporation in 2008.

Thompson has a bachelor of science degree in accounting and an MBA, both from the University of Akron.

She is a member of the University of Akron’s Advancement Council for the College of Business Administration and the Akron Area YMCA’s Board of Trustees.

Thompson’s promotion and three other executive changes take effect Dec. 1.

Darren Wells, 47, executive vice president and CFO, was named president of Goodyear’s Europe, Middle East and Africa business unit, known within the company as EMEA. The business unit had nearly $6.9 billion in sales last year, second to Goodyear’s $9.7 billion North America Tire segment. Wells joined Goodyear in August 2002 as vice president and treasurer. Wells will be moving to Brussels, Belgium, with his family as part of his new responsibilities.

Wells’ career path in some ways is paralleling that of Goodyear Chief Executive Officer Richard J. Kramer.

Kramer joined Goodyear in 2000 and was named CFO in 2004. He was then named president of Goodyear’s North American Tire division in 2007, subsequently promoted to chief operating officer and then named CEO and chairman in 2010, succeeding Robert Keegan, who retired.

Arthur de Bok, 51, president of EMEA, was named senior vice president and will be responsible for standardized and integrated sales and marketing processes across the company. De Bok joined Goodyear in 2002 as vice president, sales and marketing for consumer tires in Europe. He will remain in Brussels.

Damon J. Audia, 42, senior vice president, business development, is being promoted to senior vice president, finance, succeeding Thompson. Audia joined Goodyear in 2004 as assistant treasurer, capital markets.

The changes follow Goodyear posting strong financial results and announcing it will reinstate dividend payments in December after a more than 10-year hiatus.

“The succession moves we are announcing today place proven Goodyear leaders in key roles that will enable us to stay on our strategy road map and maintain our positive momentum,” Kramer said in a statement. “We are confident that these leaders will continue to deliver on our business objectives and create sustainable value for our shareholders.”

Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com.


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