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Saturday, July 13, 2024

From GM Institute’s Student To The Company’s CEO: Mary Barra’s Rise To Power


Mary Barra is a prominent business executive who currently serves as the Chairman and CEO of General Motors (GM), one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world. She is widely recognized for her leadership and strategic vision and has been instrumental in transforming the company into a more innovative and customer-focused organization.

The Roots Of Mary’s Dedication To GM

Barra was born in Waterford, Michigan in 1961, and grew up in a family that was deeply involved in the automobile industry. Her father worked as a die maker at GM for nearly 40 years, and her grandfather was a prominent union leader. After graduating from the General Motors Institute (now known as Kettering University) with a degree in electrical engineering, she joined GM as a co-op student in 1980.

Mary’s Multi-functionary Work Through The Years

Barra’s early career at GM was focused on engineering and manufacturing, and she held a variety of positions in these areas, including managing director of GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant and executive director of vehicle manufacturing engineering. She later became vice president of global manufacturing engineering and was responsible for the design and launch of some of GM’s most successful vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Cruze and Volt.

Extraordinary Achievements

In 2011, Barra was appointed senior vice president of global product development and was tasked with overseeing the development and launch of GM’s entire product lineup. During this time, she led the company’s efforts to streamline its product development process, reduce costs, and improve quality. She was also instrumental in the development of the Chevrolet Bolt, an all-electric vehicle that was one of the first mass-market electric cars to be produced by a major automaker.

Rise To The Top

Barra’s success in these roles led to her appointment as CEO of GM in 2014. Since taking the helm, she has focused on transforming GM into a more agile, customer-focused organization that is better equipped to compete in the rapidly changing automotive industry. She has also championed the development of autonomous vehicles and other new technologies and has made sustainability a key priority for the company.

An Example Of Sheer Audacity

Mary Barra made history by becoming the first woman to lead a top automaking company and played a pivotal role in pulling it out of the largest bankruptcy in history. Under her leadership, General Motors has seen significant growth and has become a highly profitable business. Mary Barra demonstrated her leadership skills by successfully navigating a crisis in which she and General Motors were under scrutiny by the Senate for safety issues. She implemented company policies that encouraged employees to report problems and mistakes they noticed on the ground. Moreover, Mary Barra plans to transition the company towards becoming fully electric by 2035. In 2016, she was elected as the Chair of the GM Board of Directors and became the world’s highest-paid auto executive.

Awards And Recognition

Apart from a long list of business achievement awards, Barra’s leadership at GM has earned her numerous global-level accolades, including being named one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in Business and Time’s 100 Most Influential People. She is also a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and has worked to promote greater gender and ethnic diversity among GM’s leadership ranks.

What sets Barra Apart?

Leading With A Sense Of Purpose

For a CEO’s vision to have an impact, it must encompass a noble cause that goes beyond mere financial gain. Barra shared with HBR IdeaCast that her teams are supportive of her vision, which focuses on doing what’s right for the environment and leveraging technology to achieve this goal. Barra’s employees are enthusiastic about this vision and are eager to be a part of it, as they want to work for a company that prioritizes environmental responsibility and safety not only for themselves but also for future generations.

An Exceptional Loyalty Towards The Company

Barra’s extensive experience in various roles within the company has given her an in-depth understanding of the business and its employees. This knowledge provides her with a distinct advantage over other potential CEOs, particularly those who have not worked within the organization.

A Multi-dimensional Approach

Thanks to her diverse skill set, which includes engineering, management, streamlining manufacturing processes, and human resources, Barra can approach leadership from various angles. This allows her to tackle challenges with a multifaceted perspective, utilizing her broad range of expertise. As a result, she is able to solve problems and make decisions that take into account the complexities of the organization.

In a world where people find it impossible to stick to one job for a year, Mary Barra gave her life to General Motors. She is the most audacious example of what one can achieve through honest dedication and sheer resilience. For more inspiring stories of business leaders and top brands from around the world, join World Brand Affairs. We bring you the top news from the marketing domain across the globe.