8 women building the future of transportation at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (GM, F, STLA)

mary barra gm

Summary List Placement

It’s often thought that the Detroit auto industry is a man’s world, but that actually isn’t true.

Sure, it’s been mostly men serving in high-powered executive roles and running major automakers like General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis. But from the CEO’s office down through the executive ranks, many women have risen to hold influential roles.

General Motors named Mary Barra is CEO in 2014, making her the first woman to hold the job at the largest car company in the US by annual sales. Until recently, GM had two women at the top — Dhivya Suryadevara was CFO until she left in August 2020 to join finance startup Stripe.

Barra continues to have several high-powered women on her team. And at crosstown rival Ford, a female descendant of founder Henry Ford holds an important executive position, joined by several other women with major responsibilities. 

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which recently merged with PSA Group to form Stellantis, has more men at the top than its Ford and GM competitors, but Marissa Hunter looks after the lucrative and ultra-competitive US market and steers the company’s most important brands.

Here’s a rundown of the most powerful women in the US auto industry:

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Mary Barra, CEO, GM

In her years as General Motors’ CEO, Mary Barra has seen plenty of things: a massive strike, a huge recall, a pandemic, a shift toward an electric future, tussles with President Donald Trump, and more. It’s been a period not only of challenges at the automaker but of an industry-wide shift to electric and autonomous vehicles.

As soon as Barra became CEO — the first woman to lead a major car company — GM was embroiled in a massive recall caused by a single, innocuous yet ubiquitous part: an ignition switch whose malfunction led to 124 deaths and 275 injuries and cost the company more than $2 billion. 

The problems didn’t let up even as Barra consolidated her team and established her leadership style. Trump’s election threw GM for a loop, as it contended with potential border taxes on vehicles and parts it produced in Mexico. Later, GM and Trump tangled over the closure of a factory in Ohio.

Then in late 2019, as the United Auto Workers undertook a new contract with the Detroit Big Three, the embattled union decided to strike GM, sending almost 50,000 workers to the picket lines for more than a month — the longest strike at GM in 50 years.

One might have thought that GM would get a breather, but in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the factory to idle all Chinese, US, and European production. GM responded deftly, shifting some manufacturing to making ventilators, but again tangled with Trump, who used the Defense Production Act to compel GM to make more.

Through all this chaos, Barra had to concentrate on her overarching strategies: optimizing GM to create a positive return on invested capital; reversing a pre-bankruptcy trend of wasting money in the interest of maintaining …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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