When people talk about auto executives, they would probably think of men as the ones running the show. This is not entirely true for General Motors Co., which global product development department is headed by a woman, in the persona of 51-year old Mary Barra. Just over a month ago, GM chief executive Dan Akerson revealed that one of the possible candidates to succeed him on the highly coveted post is Barra.
While most GM executives sit on offices containing collection of model cars, Barra’s stronghold at GM’s headquarters in Detroit boasts of a non-model car toy – an Albert Einstein bobblehead.
Barra earned the bobblehead after winning a war-game contest among executives to see who could best attack GM. The 33-year GM veteran told Bloomberg that it was “about what strategy we were going to take." Asked by Bloomberg to share her secret to defeating GM, Barra just smiled and said, “I don't really want to tell you.”
As GM’s global product development chief, Barra is responsible for design and quality of all the carmaker’s cars and trucks. She first joined GM in 1980 and was able to hold a number of positions since then, like being vice president in charge of global human resources.
Despite of her post as the carmaker’s product chief, she remains measured and composed and leaves no trace of swagger in her conduct or speech. For instance, instead of bragging about the astounding torque of the new Corvette, she instead talked with Bloomgerg about "driving an organization that's customer focused." Even Akerson remarked that he would not be surprised if Barra is a candidate for the top post at GM. [source: BusinessWeek]