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Mary Barra elected GM chairman
Twin roles: Mary Barra will be both CEO and chairman of GM, allowing her to put her stamp more completely on the automotive giant.
GM’s Mary Barra gets board vote of confidence with chairman appointment
7 January 2016
ONE-TIME electrical engineer Mary Barra’s rise to the top of America’s biggest
motor company is complete – she has been elected chairman of the board,
replacing Tim Solso who will stay on as lead independent director.
Ms Barra will take on the top job in conjunction with the CEO role she has
fulfilled since she replaced Dan Akerson in January 2014, giving her undiluted
control at the head of the company.
Board members gave her the unanimous tick of approval for the chairman’s job on
the strength of her performance as CEO in the wake of the chapter 11 bankruptcy
re-organisation, saying she had “set a clear vision for the organisation,
formed a strong leadership team from inside and outside the company, delivered
strong operating results and led the introduction of breakthrough vehicles and
Among the thorny issues she has been forced to handle was the 2014 ignition
switch recall scandal that resulted in the firing of 15 GM employees.
The unanimous appointment was announced by Mr Solso, who said the board had
concluded it was “in the best interests of the company to combine the roles of
chair and CEO in order to drive the most efficient execution of our plan and
vision for the future”.
“With GM consistently delivering on its targets and on track to generate
significant value for its shareholders, this is the right time for Mary to
assume this role,” he said in a prepared statement.
Ms Barra said she was honoured to serve as chairman.
“With the support of our board, we will continue to drive shareholder value by
improving our core business and leading in the transformation of personal
mobility,” she said.
Ms Barra began her career with GM in 1980 as a General Motors Institute
(Kettering University) co-op student at the Pontiac Motor Division, graduating
with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1985.
She served in a number of engineering and staff positions, including as plant
manager for Detroit Hamtramck Assembly.
She went on to become GM vice president of global human resources and then vice
president of global vehicle manufacturing, before being elevated to senior vice
president of global product development in 2011.
From 2013, she was executive vice president of global product development,
purchasing and supply chain – a position she held for less than 12 months
before being appointed CEO.
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