Mary Barra was named General Motors Corp.’s head of global product development, succeeding Tom Stephens, who was recently named GM’s global chief technology officer. The 49-year-old Barra is the first woman to hold the top product development job at GM. Since 2009, she has served as vice president of global human resources for GM – an important post as GM restructured and emerged from bankruptcy protection. An engineer, Barra was also head of global manufacturing engineering for GM, manager of the automaker's Detroit Hamtramck assembly plant, and executive director of competitive operations engineering.
Barra will assume GM's product development efforts at a critical time. While sales of GM's four U.S. brands are sharply rebounding, GM’s lineup, particularly in the U.S. market, faces new challenges and product gaps over the next few years. GM CEO Dan Akerson said that Barra will bring a fresh perspective to the critically important job of “developing vehicles that delight global customers.”
He added that Barra’s broad experience in engineering, manufacturing and staff functions; combined with the ability to collaborate and build strong relationships will enhance the company's ability to deliver the products that consumers are demanding. GM seeks to gain U.S. market share and enter new market segments in growing markets outside the U.S. like India, Brazil, China and Russia.