Barra with Akerson, who she replaces in January, in the background

Barra with Akerson, who she replaces in January, in the background

General Motors says current global product development, purchasing and supply chain EVP, Mary Barra, is to become CEO following incumbent, Dan Akerson's decision to take early leave from 15 January, 2014.

The move comes hot on the heels of the US Treasury's announcement it had exited the automaker with the sale of its last shares, leaving American taxpayers with a US$10.5bn loss on the US$49.5bn bailout.

In a raft of changes, GM also named Theodore (Tim) Solso to succeed Akerson as chairman, CFO, Dan Ammann has been appointed company president, while current president, North America, Mark Reuss, will be Barra's replacement as global product development, purchasing and supply chain, EVP.

Amman will also assume responsibility for managing the company's regional operations around the world. The global Chevrolet and Cadillac brand organisations and GM Financial will also report to Ammann.

Akerson brought forward his succession plan by several months after his wife was recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

"I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride we are restoring General Motors as America's standard bearer in the global auto industry,"  said Akerson.

With 33 years of experience at GM, Barra has risen through a series of manufacturing, engineering, and senior staff positions.

"With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today's GM," said Barra.

The company also announced chairman, corporate strategy, business development and global product planning VP, Steve Girsky, will move to a senior advisor role until leaving the company in April next year.

He will remain on the GM board of directors.

Girsky led GM's plan for Europe and has also put GM's OnStar unit at the forefront of in-vehicle connectivity.

"I share Dan's pride for what the company has accomplished and his sense of optimism for a bright future," said Girsky.  "This team is united in its commitment to building on the foundation we have established."

Bloomberg News noted that, as the first female CEO of a global automaker, Barra joins Ginni Rometty at International Business Machines, Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo, Marissa Mayer at Yahoo!, Hewlett-Packard’s Meg Whitman and Ursula Burns of Xerox as women who have risen to run major US corporations.

Barra began with GM in 1980 as a student at General Motors Institute (since renamed Kettering University) in Flint, Michigan, and landed her first job as a plant engineer at Pontiac Motor Division, where her father worked for 39 years. There were few women and even fewer 18-year-olds.

“It was a rougher environment,” she said in an interview in March. “It makes you harder.”

Bloomberg said her big break came when GM put her in a program for high potential workers and gave her a scholarship to get an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She became an executive assistant for then-CEO Jack Smith, a post that gave her a window into how the company worked. She recalled visiting senior managers at GM to talk about diversity and women’s issues while she was pregnant.

Barra has played a role in GM management for a generation. Her career has included time as vice president of global manufacturing engineering, head of GM’s Detroit Hamtramck Assembly plant and executive director of competitive operations engineering. Before becoming GM’s first female product chief, she was the company’s top human resources executive.

Most recently she led the company’s $15bn vehicle development operations, a high-profile role that’s given her much control over the look and feel of the full line of GM cars and trucks. She was promoted to that position in early 2011, less than six months after Akerson became CEO.

Some of the new vehicles to come out on her watch include the Chevrolet Impala, the first US sedan in at least 20 years chosen by Consumer Reports as as the best on the market, and the Cadillac CTS, picked as Motor Trend’s car of the year, Bloomberg noted.

Some of her other achievements aren’t so easy to see. Akerson asked her to cut costs by aligning purchasing and product development, two powerful units that had long been at odds. In one early example, GM engineers and suppliers found savings by redesigning knee air bags so that they could be used in more vehicles without having to design different dashboards for each model.

“If it’s customer facing, why does it have to be?” Barra said of the conversations she’s had with engineers. “And then if it’s not, why can’t it be common for the globe? Some components and subsystems depend on the size of the vehicle, the performance you’re looking for. But if you start with questioning ‘why can’t I have one solution?’ then you get engineering thinking completely differently.”

Akerson had presaged Barra’s appointment earlier this year when he predicted that a woman would eventually run one of the three largest US-based automakers.

“The Detroit Three are all run by non-car guys,” Akerson said in September in Detroit. “Someday, there will be a Detroit Three that’s run by a car gal.”

Bloomberg said he declined to identify any contenders at the time, saying only that “there are an unbelievable number of talented women in automotive, certainly at General Motors”.

Show the press release

DETROIT – General Motors today announced that Dan Akerson, who guided today’s GM to record profits and dramatic improvement in vehicle quality while closing the chapter on government ownership in the company, will step down as chairman and CEO on Jan. 15, 2014.

Mary Barra, 51, executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, was elected by the Board of Directors to become the next CEO of the company.  Barra will also join the GM Board. 

Akerson, 65, pulled ahead his succession plan by several months after his wife was recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

The Board also named Theodore (Tim) Solso to succeed Akerson as Chairman.  Solso, 66, is the former chairman and CEO of Cummins, Inc., and has been a member of the GM Board since June 2012.

“I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America’s standard bearer in the global auto industry,”  Akerson said in a message to employees.

With 33 years of experience at GM, Barra has risen through a series of manufacturing, engineering, and senior staff positions.  She is a leader in the company’s ongoing turnaround, revitalizing GM’s product development process resulting in the launch of critically acclaimed new products while delivering record product quality ratings and higher customer satisfaction.

“With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today’s GM,” said Barra. “I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”

Dan Ammann, 41, executive vice president and chief financial officer, was named company president and will assume responsibility for managing the company’s regional operations around the world.  The global Chevrolet and Cadillac brand organizations and GM Financial will also report to Ammann.

Ammann joined GM in 2010 where his first assignment was to manage GM’s initial public offering. As CFO, he has led a transformation of GM’s finance operations into a world-class organization.  He also led the strategy to rebuild the company’s captive finance capability through the successful establishment and growth of GM Financial.

“We have a significant opportunity to further integrate and optimize our operations to deliver even better results,” said Ammann.  “While we have made good progress, we still have much work ahead of us to realize GM’s full potential.”

Ammann will retain CFO responsibilities at least through the release of the company’s fourth quarter and full-year 2013 results in early February 2014.  His replacement as CFO will be named later.

Mark Reuss, 50, executive vice president and president, North America, will replace Barra as executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.  Under Reuss’ watch, GM’s North America region has produced consistent profits and improved margins during a product renaissance that includes the launch of award-winning cars and trucks such as the Cadillac ATS, Chevrolet Corvette, Impala and Silverado pickup.

“The driver’s seat of designing and engineering the strongest product line up in GM’s history is the best seat to have,” said Reuss.  “We’re going to keep the pedal down on GM’s product resurgence and keep winning new customers.”

Alan Batey, currently senior vice president, Global Chevrolet and U.S. Sales and Marketing, will replace Reuss and is named Executive Vice President and President, North America.  Batey, 50, joined GM’s Vauxhall operation in 1979 and held several sales, service and marketing positions around the world.  In his current position, he has developed the Chevrolet brand’s Find New Roads advertising campaign and has overseen a sweeping upgrade of retail sales and service operations at hundreds of U.S. dealerships.

“North America is the foundation of the GM turnaround story and I’m honored to help continue what Mark started,” said Batey.  “We remain committed to delivering the world’s best retail experience to match the world’s best cars and trucks.”

The company also announced that Steve Girsky, 51, vice chairman, Corporate Strategy, Business Development and Global Product Planning, will move to a senior advisor role until leaving the company in April 2014.  He will remain on the GM Board of Directors.

Girsky led GM’s turnaround plan for Europe that has put that region’s operations back on a path to profitability.  He has also put GM’s OnStar unit at the forefront of in-vehicle connectivity and helped create GM Ventures to speed the commercialization of new technologies in GM vehicles.

“I share Dan’s pride for what the company has accomplished and his sense of optimism for a bright future,” said Girsky.  “This team is united in its commitment to building on the foundation that we have established.”

Under Akerson’s leadership, GM made swift progress as the company transformed from being majority owned by U.S. Treasury to being publicly traded and investment grade rated.

“My goals as CEO were to put the customer at the center of every decision we make, to position GM for long term success and to make GM a company that America can be proud of again,” Akerson said.  “We are well down that path, and I’m certain that our new team will keep us moving in that direction.”

 

Akerson was named GM Chairman and CEO on September 1, 2010.  He joined GM in 2009 as a member of its Board of Directors.  Since the company’s November 2010 Initial Public Offering, GM has recorded 15 consecutive quarters of profitability, has earned this year the best overall initial vehicle quality scores of any auto manufacturer, and has re-invested nearly $9 billion and created or retained more than 25,000 jobs at its U.S plants.

Original source: http://media.gm.com/content/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/emergency_news/1210-gm-execs.html