Mary Barra elected new CEO at General Motors

  • getty

Mary Barra has broken through the glass ceiling of automakers to become the first female CEO of General Motors.

Barra will be joining the small but rising number of women who run major U.S corporations like Ginni Rometty at IBM, Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo, Marissa Mayer at Yahoo!, Meg Whitman at Hewlett-Packard Co. and Ursula Burns at Xerox.

The daughter of a former GM dye worker, the 51-year old Barra joined the company at 18 and is currently the senior vice president for global head of product development, and she will now be replacing the retiring Dan Akerson as CEO on January 15, 2014.

Barra will also join the company’s board, as the fifth female member on the board, while Theodore Solso will be the chairman of the board.

Akerson, who is retiring early after his wife was diagnosed with advance cancer, said in a video conference that Barra was chosen because of the "breadth and depth of experience, her managerial and interpersonal skills, and understanding of the company".

He also stated that she had "brought order to chaos" in the global product development process, adding that "this is an executive who has a vision of where she wants to take the organization. Mary is an adaptive personality and one who reacts to change well."

Barra holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Kettering University and a master's degree in business administration from Stanford University.

In the GM statement announcing Barra's new role, the company credited her with being a "leader in the ongoing turnaround, revitalizing GM’s product development process resulting in the launch of critically acclaimed new products while delivering record product quality ratings and higher customer satisfaction."

“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,” said Barra “I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”

On Monday, the U.S. government sold its final stake in GM.

The government received $912 million GM shares in exchange for the $49.5 billion bailout, and received $39 billion of its money back, losing $10.5 billion.

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