Mary Barra has been named the new CEO of General Motors, (effective January 15, 2014); she’s the first female chief executive officer in a major automotive company. Quite the break through!
Joining GM at 18 as a co-op student, Ms. Barra continually climbed the corporate ladder during her 33 year career at GM. She has held a variety of engineering and administrative positions, including Vice President of Global Human Resources where her responsibilities included overseeing and restructuring GM’s cultural change due to bankruptcy.
Ms. Barra is both an outstanding technician, and a well respected leader. As an engineer, she had responsibility for GM’s 11 worldwide brands for their design, program management, and quality improvement efforts. She is known for her approachability and effectiveness, and for her vision.
Current CEO Akerson said why Ms. Barra was selected:
Because of the breadth of her experience, her management record, her people skills and her understanding of GM’s operations.
Her breadth and depth of experience and her interpersonal and people skills are repeatedly mentioned as key strengths, and it was also stated that she “brought order to chaos” in the global product development process.
She shares her vision, she knows where she wants to take the company, she reacts well to change, and helps lead others through it. An industry analyst attributes her strong leadership style to be “more of a coach than a traditional top-down executive.” In 2012, Forbes Magazine recognized Barra as the 41st most powerful woman in the world, where she was praised for both her automotive business knowledge, and her leadership style.
Barra’s Tips for Success
- Pursue a career with passion and hard work; talent alone is not enough to be a success.
- Address challenges head-on; get all those involved together right away to address the situation.
- Change the world; rethink outdated assumptions and make a real difference; protect the things that don’t need to change.
- Give something back; find a cause, join a charity, help a neighbor.
- Remember your friends, family, and faith. They help celebrate good times and cope with bad times. Faith doesn’t always make things easy, but it can make all things possible.
Ms. Barra is yet another leader that exemplifies courageous leadership, and is proof that all things are possible!