Alfred Pritchard Sloan, Jr. was an American business executive in the automotive industry. He was a long-time president, chairman, and CEO of General Motors Corporation. Sloan, first as a senior executive and later as the head of the organization, helped lead GM from the 1920s through the 1950s—decades when concepts such as the annual model change, brand architecture, industrial design, automotive design, and planned obsolescence transformed the industry, and when the industry changed lifestyles and the built environment in America and throughout the world.
Sloan's memoir, My Years with General Motors, written in the 1950s but withheld from publishing until an updated version was finally released in 1964, exemplified Sloan's vision of the professional manager and the carefully engineered corporate structure in which he worked. It is considered one of the seminal texts in the field of modern management education, although the state of the art in management science has grown greatly in the half century since.
Sloan is remembered for being a rational, shrewd, and very successful manager, who led GM to become the largest corporation on earth, a position it held for many years after his death. His rationality and shrewdness are also remembered by his critics as extending even to cold, plutocratic detachment or avarice. However, the magnitude of Sloan's philanthropy suggests that he saw himself differently—a man with greater talents and greater responsibilities than others, who was thus entitled to authority but also obligated to, and committed to, beneficence.