Chris Liddell, Microsoft's finance chief since 2005, jumped ship late last year to join battered General Motors as its CFO and vice chairman.
He succeeds Ray Young, a long-time GM finance executive who moved to the company's international operations in the shake-up that followed CEO Fritz Henderson's departure.
During Liddell's time at Microsoft, the company issued its first bond offering and paid out more of its cash hoard to shareholders. But in a May 2009 profile, Liddell told Treasury & Risk he was proudest of the finance team's response to the economic downturn, when it quickly pulled together a program to save $1.5 billion in operating expenses.
The recession pales in comparison to the problems Liddell faces at GM, which reported a $1.2 billion loss in its first post-bankruptcy earnings report for the quarter ended Sept. 30. The U.S. Treasury owns 60.8% of the car maker, and GM must make regular payments on the $17 billion it owes the U.S. and others.
While the challenges are extreme, the upside may be as well. Ed Whitacre, GM's chairman and CEO, said in January Liddell could be a candidate to succeed Henderson as GM's permanent CEO. Liddell, 51, was CFO at International Paper before joining Microsoft.