GM names Barra head of product development
"Mary will bring a fresh perspective to the critically important job of developing vehicles that delight global customers," said Dan Akerson, GM Chairman and CEO as he named Barra head of global product development, "Her 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 today's consumers demand," he sadi
Barra will lead the Product Development organization responsible for managing all global vehicle programs for GM in Asia and Europe as well as in North America.
"Knowing that today's global customer expects even more from their GM vehicle means we have to work harder than ever to exceed those expectations," said Barra, who is the first woman to take the jobs. "I'm excited by the opportunity associated with this new challenge and pleased to be joining such a strong team with deep technical knowledge and experience."
Barra's background is likely to raise some eyebrows inside the company since she has relatively little hands on experience in engineering and testing new vehicles. Barra was appointed vice president, Global Human Resources in 2009, to initiate change in the company's culture during the largest restructuring in GM's history. Prior to this appointment, she had been vice president, Global Manufacturing Engineering. Barra has also held a number of engineering and staff positions, including plant manager, Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant; executive director of Competitive Operations Engineering; and general director of Internal Communications for GM North America.
Barra began her career with General Motors in 1980 as a General Motors Institute co-op student at the Pontiac Motor Division. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. In 1988, Barra received a GM fellowship to the Stanford Graduate School of Business and in 1990 graduated with an MBA in Business Administration.
She serves on the Kettering University Board of Trustees and Inforum Center for Leadership Board of Directors. Barra is also Key Executive for Stanford University.
Barra was named one of Automotive News' 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry" in 2005, and again in 2010. In 2010, she also earned Kettering Alumni Association's Management Achievement Award for her specific contributions with positive and lasting effects in the field of management.
Barra, 49, will continue to report to Akerson and serve on the Executive Committee. Her move becomes effective Feb. 1.