A historical administrator for the Detroit firm, and a woman who revolutionized the car manufacturer by propelling it into the future (not without criticism). I’m talking about Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors since 2014.
She is not a real entrepreneur, but she thinks as if she were. As if General Motors were hers.
This successful climb did not happen without challenges won within the company. Without difficult decisions being made, such as the closure of some factories with the consequent dismissal of several employees.
Barry’s story is a good lesson for anyone looking to improve themselves. A stimulus for those who want to be successful in work, social life, and in their business. I’ll explain why later.
Mary Barra was born in 1961 in Waterford, Michigan. Her father worked as a mechanic for Pontiac, a division of GM, and passed on his passion for automotive to his daughter.
– After attending Kettering University (then called the General Motors Institute of Technology), Barra began her career at GM in 1980 as an intern in the Engineering department.
– Her university career began at the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) where she graduated in electrical engineering in 1985.
– Thanks to her skills, Mary also obtained an MBA from Stanford Business School in 1990.
– As a result of these studies at the university, she met Anthony E. Barra known as Tony. She married him only a few years later: he too is an engineer and consultant. From their union their children Rachel and Nicholas were born.
Over the years she has grown within the company and gone to the top. In 2004, she was named Vice President of Global Engineering, becoming the first woman to fill this role within the automaker.
In 2006, she was promoted again, this time as vice president of GM North America, the operational arm for the American continent.
A key step in Barra’s career took place in 2010, she was appointed vice president of Global Human Resources, the department that deals with human resources worldwide.
In this role, she worked closely with Akerson, then CEO of GM, and in 2012, she also became a member of the board of directors.
In January 2014, Mary Barra was named chief executive officer of General Motors, becoming the first woman to lead an automotive company in history.
2014 was a difficult year for Barra. Her first year as CEO coincided with the Ignition Switch case, a problem with the ignition switch that caused the engine to stop suddenly in motion, putting the safety of those on board at risk.
The case has raised other problems within the company, raising several criticisms.
But she also brought some important innovations:
– The challenges of electric cars, first the Chevy Bolt. It starred with a billion-dollar mega acquisition of Cruise Automation.
– With another 600 million she took over Lyft, an online app with a platform that intends to compete with the more famous Uber.
However, General Motors was transformed with her into a smaller corporate group, which managed to sell 8 million cars, having greater profitability.
To implement this policy in 2018, Mary Barra, unfortunately, decided to close 5 North American factories: 4 in the USA and one in Canada.
As a result, 14,000 people lost their jobs. Because of this she also suffered criticism from Donald Trump who was then president.
MARY BARRA TODAY
Mary Barra is considered one of the most powerful women in the world. She was included in the Forbes list of the 100 most powerful women for 7 consecutive years.
In 2019, she received the “Automotive Executive of the Year” award from Automotive News magazine.
She is also a member of the board of directors of Exxon Mobil, the largest oil company in the United States.
Barra is valued at around $22 million and has found her way into an environment that is still dominated by men.
In addition to being the first woman to head General Motors, Barra is also the first CEO of an automotive company to be included in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
HER COMMITMENT TO DISNEY
In 2020, she joined the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company, the American multinational founded in 1923 by Walt Disney.
In this new adventure, Barra will work closely with Bob Iger, the current CEO of Disney.
And she is the fourth woman in history and the 12th person to join Disney’s board of directors.
MAKING THE DIFFICULT CHOICES IN THE DIFFICULT MOMENTS
I want to make aassertion, do not fool yourself. Do not think that there is a better choice than another. Nobody knows the future.
Above all they are not omniscient, that is, you never know everything. So examine the information available and decide based on it, without wasting any more useless time believing that you are getting closer to a greater chance of doing the right thing.
When Barra fired all those employees, no one knew what would have happened if she hadn’t. Maybe the whole GM company went bankrupt and everyone would lose their money. I know it’s drastic but it could have happened.
Having said that at some point there are choices to be made and they must be made. To help you try to think this way focus on second-level results.
Going to the gym is tiring, a sacrifice, and you often have pain. These are first-level consequences. Which are the second-level ones? A better physique, greater health and well-being, and greater self-esteem for having been able to constantly transform one’s physique.
If you concentrate on the second level, it manages to silence the consequences of the first level.
I am sure that Barra has automatically acted like this, thinking of the good of the company and of all the others involved.
Of course, if the company went haywire, then there would be no other solution than to blame it. By taking care of the whole company, she made a painful but right decision.
Remember this: it doesn’t matter if the choice is right or wrong, it is important to act. Otherwise, you risk living a life full of regrets, and without having experienced anything.
Mary Barra is the CEO of General Motors. Her history is an example of how you can get to the top of a company even starting from humble origins.
She began her career as an engineer and then went on to become a manager until she held the position of Chief Executive Officer.
It is an example that women can also make a career in traditionally male fields such as the automotive industry.
In conclusion, Mary Barra is an example to follow for women who want to make a career in traditionally male environments. It is also an example of how difficulties can be overcome by facing difficult choices in difficult times.
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