The newest CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra is known to be one of the leading women in the auto industry and is the highest ranking woman in the automotive industry. Barra began as an 18-year-old co-op student at General Motors Institute of Technology. She then worked through different parts of the organisaiton, starting from engineering, and later continued to communications, human resources and product development, developing strong skills in every area. With such a holistic approach to work, it was no surprise when she became the CEO at GM in 2014.
Shortly after she became the CEO, the company went through a rough patch due to a global abasement involving a defective ignition switch that led to at least 124 deaths, compelling the company to recall 2.6 million cars. Despite this setback, Barra decided to get to the bottom of the issue and conducted an internal enquiry that resulted in 15 employees getting fired and instating new policies. She went on to tell her employees that she never wants the company to put this incidence behind itself. Ever since, she has raised the bar by pushing for transparency. She is someone who believes that for an organisation that ultimately aims for sustainable change, benefits must be greater than effort. She cites, “Do every job you’re in like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, and demonstrate that ownership of it.”
One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is to bring in smoothness at an organisation, especially where all seems to be going haywire. Setting a bar in this domin, Barra also took the role of a Product Chief at GM, where she discovered that the product development process was in frenzy; there were 30 different platforms and a lot of inadequacy and poor quality. She got into action in no time, setting the product line right, bettering its quality and productivity, and aligning the product with customer needs in a better way. In fact, bringing this order in the product development process is one of the chief reasons as to why she was selected as the next CEO.
In spite of developing excellent skills through sundry departments and eventually becoming the CEO, Barra’s search for knowledge and interest in continuous learning did not end, leading her to attend the Harvard Business School program.
Apart from this pursuit for excellence, Barra is also currently in talks with the US government and has stated her commitment to help with growing job opportunities in the country. Apart from creating 700 new jobs, the leading global automotive giant, under Barra’s leadership, is also setting new industry standards by taking a lead in building an all-new electric vehicle, which was originally planned to be manufactured in China. With such path-breaking vision, it is no wonder that Mary Barra is an inspiration to budding entrepreneurs worldwide.