Mary Teresa Barra (née Makela; born December 24, 1961) is the Chairman and CEO of General Motors Company. She has held the CEO position since January 15, 2014, and she is the first female CEO of a major global automaker. On December 10, 2013, GM named her to succeed Dan Akerson as Chief Executive Officer, and prior to that, Barra served as the Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain at General Motors.
Barra in Mexico, August 2014
|Born||Mary Teresa Makela
December 24, 1961
Royal Oak, Michigan, United States
|Alma mater||Kettering University
|Occupation||Chairman and CEO, General Motors|
|Board member of||10; General Dynamics, Disney Stanford University Board of Trustees, Kettering University Board of Trustees|
|Spouse(s)||Anthony E. Barra|
|Children||Nicholas Barra and Rachel Barra|
Barra was born in Royal Oak, Michigan. Her father, Ray Mäkela, worked as a die maker at Pontiac for 39 years. Barra's parents are of Finnish descent. Barra attended Waterford schools in Waterford, Michigan. She is a graduate of Waterford Mott High School.
Barra graduated from the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. She then attended Stanford Graduate School of Business on a GM fellowship, receiving her Masters in Business Administration degree in 1990.
Barra started working for General Motors at the age of 18 as a co-op student in 1980 and subsequently held a variety of engineering and administrative positions, including being the manager of the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant.
In February 2008, she became Vice President of Global Manufacturing Engineering. In July 2009 she advanced to the position of Vice President of Global Human Resources, which she held until February 2011, when she was named Executive Vice President of Global Product Development. The latter position included responsibilities for design; she has worked to reduce the number of automobile platforms in GM. In August 2013, her Vice President responsibility was extended to include Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.
During her first year as CEO, General Motors was forced to issue 84 safety recalls involving over 30 million cars. Barra was called before the Senate to testify about the recalls and deaths attributed to the faulty ignition switch. Barra and General Motors also came under suspicion of paying for awards to burnish the CEO and corporation's image during that time.
Over the course of her tenure as CEO, Barra has pushed GM as a company transitioning into the tech space pushing forward in the automated driverless car space with major acquisitions including Strobe, a startup focused on driverless technology. Also in 2017 she pushed GM to develop the Chevy Bolt EV, beating rival Tesla in developing the first electric car with a range of 200 miles.
Beyond being an incredibly respected leader of a major U.S. company, Mary is recognized as an agent of change with a relentless focus on quality, safety and, most importantly, consumers. Her ability to adapt to a changing technological and consumer-focused landscape makes her uniquely suited for the Disney board.
Barra and GM are helping Disney with a new project called Test Track, located in the Epcot Center of Disney World in Orlando.
Other Boards and Councils
Barra is a member of the General Dynamics Board of Directors. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Economic Club and as a member of The Business Council. She is also a member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees, the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees for the Detroit Country Day School.
Awards and honors
In December 2016, Barra joined a business forum assembled by then President-Elect Trump to provide strategic and policy advice on economic issues. However, she left the forum in 2017, following Trump's response to the Charlottesville protests.
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