With Mary Barra at the Helm, General Motors is on the Rise
On January 15th of this year, General Motors announced the newest CEO for the world renowned automaker will be Mary Barra. This announcement comes at the wake of Dan Akerson announcing his resignation due to personal reasons, and naming Barra his successor. Who is Mary Barra and what is she going to do to continue the upward climb GM has felt over the past few years?
Mary Barra was born to be General Motors. The daughter of a GM die maker who worked in the Waterford MI plant that produced the Pontiac Fiero in the 1980’s, she has been in love with cars such as the Camaro and Firebird most of her life. What better choice could GM make for a CEO; someone who not only grew up loving Chevy cars, but also attended their university, General Motors Institute which is now called Kettering University.
Barra earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from General Motors Institute. She began working for GM at the age of 18 as a co-op student in 1980 and has held a variety of management and executive level positions throughout the company. In 1990 she earned her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and in 2011 she was named the head of Global Product Development, working directly under the CEO to aid in regaining the confidence America used to have in GM vehicles.
The road for Ms. Barra has taken her through the toughest times in American auto manufacturing. Having started working in 1980 she endured the influx of foreign auto makers’ vehicles on American soil in important battlegrounds like Albany Chevrolet and Dallas Cadillac. She saw firsthand how the American public viewed vehicles made by Honda and Toyota as both more reliable and more affordable.
During the 1980’s she had a front row seat for the answer GM came up with to these manufacturers; the Pontiac Fiero. Giving her stamp of approval on the Fiero, she traded her Chevrolet Chevette for a Black Fiero. Barra also had a front row and hugely integral part in seeing the company have to file its chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008 after the massive spike in oil prices in 2006 and 2007.
Barrra was integral in bringing the company through the tough times and looks forward to much better years with greater profit margins. After the bankruptcy, GM sold off Saturn and Hummer to focus solely on its own in house operations and make its own vehicles better and more fuel efficient. Having wrestled with the decision when buying her first car between a Firebird or the Chevette, Barra aims to take this decision away from her customers.
She is focused on continuing the current GM launches of vehicles that are both powerful and practical. She wants them to be sex and fuel efficient so the American people can have what they always want in a vehicle; everything. In the heartland in places like Athens, GA, and Omaha, NE, the battle is getting harder. With the current line of great smaller vehicles for the everyday commuter or city traveler, Barra and GM will have to shift their focus to their truck lines next to ensure they can provide the power truck owners need along with the fuel efficiency they desire.
The next several years will continue to be exciting, new and remarkable for GM as Barra takes the next steps toward having the vehicles her consumers are looking for. Look for GM to take back a huge percentage of the market share it once owned and be the domestic leader in vehicle manufacturing its reputation has been built on.