General Motors Chooses Mary Barra as New CEO

Today, General Motors announced that it has chosen Mary Barra, the company’s senior vice president for product development, to replace current CEO Dan Akerson on January 15, 2014. This is big news, as Barra will be the first woman to hold the CEO spot at a major U.S. car company.

New GM CEO Mary Barra (Paul Sancya/AP)

New GM CEO Mary Barra (Paul Sancya/AP)

The decision makes perfect sense given Barra’s remarkable record of service to GM. She’s accumulated an impressive 33 years of experience at the company, starting her first job there when she was just 18 years old. Over more than three decades of work, she’s risen all the way to senior management – and is now taking over the top job.

This extensive experience with the auto industry sets Barra apart from her predecessors, Dan Akerson and Ed Whitacre, who came to GM from the telecommunications and finance industries, respectively. Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, thinks this experience makes her the right choice. In an Associated Press article announcing her appointment, Gordon said that “there’s nobody with more years of honest ‘car-guy’ credentials than she has. She’s the one to do the breakthrough.”

Of particular interest to EcoCAR is Barra’s interest in promoting electric vehicles. When Forbes gave her the number 35 spot on their list of Power Women in 2013, they mentioned her interest in getting 500,000 vehicles with electrification on the road by 2017. Needless to say, we’re excited to see someone with an eye on alternative fuel vehicles take the top job at GM.

EcoCAR congratulates Mary Barra for her remarkable accomplishment – not only has she made a huge step in her own career, she’s also broken new ground for women across the entire auto industry. We look forward to seeing how she leads GM!