As the newly named CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra will be the first woman to run a global automaker. It’s a remarkable, sun-roof shattering achievement that not long ago would have seemed unthinkable. But according to Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, the most important thing to know about her may be that she is, in fact, “a car guy.”
“There’s nobody with more years of honest ‘car-guy’ credentials than she has,” Gordon told the Associated Press. “She started off as a little-girl car guy. She became a big-girl car guy and now she’s a woman car guy.”
I don’t even mind the sexism, I’m just happy there was a super-qualified woman ready for upgrade on that particular corporate ladder; they didn’t have to headhunt a banker or management consultant or marketing exec from some other business. I hope I like her work product (sounds like she supervised the 2014 models; now I have to go look them up.
An engineer and Stanford MBA, she grew up the daughter of a Pontiac tool and die maker and has worked at GM since the 1980s. She’s actually run an assembly plant. She was vice president of global manufacturing and engineering. And in 2011, after a stint streamlining the company’s bureaucracy as head of human resources, she was promoted to vice president of global product development, where she oversaw the company’s entire vehicle portfolio.