A significant shoutout is in order regarding today’s announcement on the appointment of Mary Barra as the new CEO of General Motors. This appointment represents a milestone of the first senior female executive ever to lead a global automobile manufacturer, and the significance is not unnoticed.
The appointment is part of a far-reaching re-organization of GM management and includes the announcement that current CEO Dan Akerson will exit the company next month due to personal reasons. Akerson advanced his succession plan by several months after his wife was recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.
Ms. Barra has spent her entire working career at GM. The daughter of a tool and die maker at the Pontiac division, she starting in 1980 as a co-op student and risen through the ranks in roles in manufacturing, engineering and other leadership positions. Her most senior roles include Vice President of Human Resources and most recently Vice President for Global Product Development. As head of global development, additional responsibilities were added as global director of procurement. According to GM’s announcement along with other business media reporting, Ms. Barra is credited with the bulk of the current turnaround in company’s line up of new vehicles.
News reports indicate that Ms. Barra has demonstrated a bias for action and for getting things done. Under her product development leadership, GM introduced the new Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Impala models, both of which have had market success. In its reporting, the Wall Street Journal characterized Ms. Barra has “having a reputation for speaking her mind, a trait that hasn’t always been appreciated in GM’s executive suite.”
Supply Chain Matters views that as a positive connotation, one that has the potential to move GM into an even bolder direction. Her grounding in manufacturing operations and procurement would indicate an awareness to global supply chain needs, including how the supply chain contributes to strategic business outcomes.
Much more will be written and spoken regarding this landmark announcement, along with GM’s other new leadership appointments. For the time being, due recognition is warranted to GM’s Board and to Dan Akerson for this bold and landmark appointment.