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2013-12-11 08:29

WOMAN TAKES GM STEERING-WHEEL: Mary Barra, an engineer with three decades at GM, is to take over as CEO. Image: GM

DETROIT, Michigan – The next chief executive officer of auto giant General Motors will be a double first - a very multi-skilled woman who's been with the US automaker for three decades.

Current chairman and CEO Dan Akerson, 65, will retire on January 15 and be succeeded by long-time GM executive Mary Barra who is 51, has a background in engineering and management - and will be the first top female executive of any major automaker.

The news came the day after the US federal government said it had sold all its GM shares.


Barra, most recently executive vice-president for global product development, purchasing and supply chain, will become the company’s first woman CEO and the first woman CEO of any major automaker.

She was elected unanimously by the GM board which met over the weekend.

From the Detroit News:
Barra revs up prospects for women in workforce
Buzz about GM's Barra goes global

Akerson, 65, accelerated his succession by several months when his wife was diagnosed with advanced cancer. He had intended to stay on as CEO until late 2014.

Akerson said Barra was “a great choice”: qualified and well-respected inside the organisation, has managed the “most complex part of the business” and was one of the “most gifted” of executives.

“Mary went into an organisation that four years ago was in chaos and brought order,” Akerson said. The board had considered going outside the company for a CEO but agreed it had the talent within.


Barra said: “With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today’s GM. I’m honoured to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”

Barra, an engineer who has worked for GM for more than three decades, will become a member of the GM board. She joined GM in 1980, will be GM’s fifth CEO in less than five years — but the first since 2009 who wasn’t a US Treasury-appointed director.

She has been a force in the company’s turnaround efforts, streamlining GM’s product development process and overseeing critical launches.

Profile of Mary Barra
Read more on:    general motors  |  detroit

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