Diageo North America has poached a senior executive from General Motors. Debra Kelly-Ennis, the head of GM's Saab division in the US is quitting the automobile company to take up the position of chief marketing officer with Diageo.

Kelly-Ennis will report directly to Diageo North America president and CEO, Ivan Menezes. Her appointment will be effective from 25 April.

"Diageo North America's strong performance over the last few years and continued commitment to responsible marketing has allowed us to engage more closely with our customers and consumers," said Menezes in a statement.

"Debra's outstanding record of consumer-focused marketing experience and managerial expertise in the highly competitive automotive industry make her a great fit for this position."

Serving as president and COO of Saab Cars USA since September 2002, Kelly-Ennis led the division to set US sales records for new and used cars, as well as parts and accessories in 2003. Recently, she led the most aggressive new product offensive in Saab's history, Diageo said, including the revamping of many retail outlets and a new, multi-faceted advertising campaign.

"I'm thrilled to be joining Diageo at this exciting time in its evolution," said Kelly-Ennis. "Diageo has a spectacular array of world-class spirits, wine and beer brands and an industry-leading approach to the responsible marketing of beverage alcohol. I look forward to the opportunities and challenges that await."