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General Motors names Mary Barra as new boss

The first woman to take the helm of a major global automaker

Share on Facebook December 11, 2013, Reporter : BigNewsNet, Reader : 401

Mary Barra as, first female chief executive of GM news

NEW YORK - General Motors Co.Tuesday named Mary Barra as its first female chief executive,in the process making her the first woman to take the helm of a major global automaker.

Barra joined at the automaker as intern over three decades ago, and rose to head the automaker's global product development.

Barra, 51, joins a handful of women, including Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Meg Whitman, as CEOs of major American companies. Barra will also join the GM board of directors.

She replaces Dan Akerson, who guided GM through most of the period since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. He will step down as chairman and CEO on Jan. 15.

Akerson, who is also currently chairman of the company, will leave both of his posts in mid-January. His wife has recently been diagnosed with advanced cancer.

Earlier this week the US government sold its remaining shares in GM, the world's second biggest carmaker.

Overall, it lost around $10billion (pounds 6 billion) on its bailout of the carmaker in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.

Barra has been in charge of design and engineering, and before that she was head of human resources at the company.

In a message to the company's employees on Tuesday, Akerson said: "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."

Current chief financial officer, Dan Ammann, was named GM president. He will also take responsibility for the Cadillac and Chevrolet brands.

Barra has more than 33 years of experience at GM and is well respected within the company. She is credited with helping with the ongoing turnaround and revitalizing of GM's cars and trucks, most recently filling the role of executive vice-president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain.

"I'm honoured to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed," Barra said.

Other women who have risen to run major U.S. corporations are Ginni Rometty at International Business Machines Corp., Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo Inc., and Ursula Burns of Xerox Corp.

Barra's prospects escalated as several vehicle designs, such as the Chevrolet Cruze and Impala, proved hits with customers.

She has streamlined management in GM's vehicle engineering units, cutting to one from three the number of executives overseeing a vehicle program, and challenged designers and suppliers to reduce unique components.

A female executive has yet to lead a global automaker, although several have risen to top positions within the company, including Dianne Craig, who was appointed president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Co. of Canada in 2011.

Barra beat out Mark Ruess, GM North American president, and Dan Ammann, GM chief financial officer, in the competition for the top job.

"GM is in more than capable hands as we've seen some of the best products released under Mary Barra, who has helped to oversee the development of their vehicles on a global scale," said Jared Rowe, Kelley Blue Book, president.

"Now that the company has also been freed from government ownership, Mary has the opportunity to see the company continue to develop vehicles that consumers want to drive while improving its continued profitability," he added.

GM also said Tuesday Ammann, 41, was being named president of the company and will assume responsibility for managing the company's regional operations around the globe.

Ammann will retain his position as CFO as well while the company searches for a replacement, GM said.

Mark Reuss will replace Barra in her previous role, the company said.

Akerson presaged Barra's appointment earlier this year when he predicted that a woman will eventually run one of the three largest U.S.-based automakers.

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