Mary Barra

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Mary Barra
Mary Barra 2014.jpg
Barra in Mexico, August 2014
Born Mary Teresa Makela
(1961-12-24) December 24, 1961 (age 53)
Waterford, Michigan
Alma mater Kettering University
Stanford University
Employer General Motors
Board member of
3; General Dynamics, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Kettering University Board of Trustees[1]
Spouse(s) Anthony E. Barra
Children 2

Mary Teresa Barra (née Makela, born December 24, 1961) is the Chief Executive Officer of General Motors. She has held the position since January 15, 2014, and she is the first female CEO of a major global automaker.[2][3] On December 10, 2013, GM named her to succeed Dan Akerson as Chief Executive Officer, and prior to that, Barra served as the Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain at General Motors.[2][4]

In April 2014, Barra was featured on the cover of Time's "100 Most Influential People in the World."[5]

Education and career[edit]

She was born Mary Teresa Makela.[citation needed] Her father worked as a die maker at Pontiac for 39 years.[6] She studied electrical engineering at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree. Receiving a GM fellowship at Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1988, she obtained a Masters in Business Administration from the school in 1990.[7]

She started working for General Motors at the age of 18[8] as a co-op student in 1980 and subsequently held a variety of engineering and administrative positions, including being manager of the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant.[7]

In February 2008 she became Vice President of Global Manufacturing Engineering. In July 2009 she advanced to the position of Vice President of Global Human Resources, which she held until February 2011, when she was named Executive Vice President of Global Product Development.[7][9] The latter position included responsibilities for design; she has worked to reduce the number of automobile platforms in GM.[2] In August 2013, her Vice President responsibility was extended to include Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.[10]

In December of 2013, Barra was named to replace outgoing CEO Dan Akerson, and assumed the position of CEO in January of 2014. During her first year as CEO, General Motors was forced to issue 84 safety recalls involving over 30 million cars. [11] Barra was called before the Senate to testify about the recalls and deaths attributed to the faulty ignition switch.[12] Barra and General Motors also came under suspicion of paying for awards to burnish the CEO and corporation's image during that time. [13]

Barra was listed as one of the world's most powerful women by Forbes, for the third time, in 2014. She was listed seventh, rising from 35th in 2013.[14]

On May 3, 2014 she delivered the Spring Commencement address for University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus at Michigan Stadium. She received an honorary degree.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Barra's parents are of Finnish descent.[16][17] She is married to consultant Tony Barra, whom she met while studying at Kettering University, and has two children.[2] The family lives in Northville, a suburb of Detroit.[18] She has named the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird as her favorite cars.[8]


  1. ^ "Kettering University Board of Trustees | Kettering University". Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  2. ^ a b c d Vlasic, Bill (2013-12-10). "G.M. Names First Female Chief Executive". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  3. ^ "Dan Akerson to Retire as GM CEO in January 2014 Mary Barra to Become Next CEO; Dan Ammann Named President". General Motors. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  4. ^ "Dan Akerson to Retire as GM CEO in January 2014 Mary Barra to Become Next CEO; Dan Ammann Named President". General Motors. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "A Look at Mary Barra, GM’s First Female CEO". The Wall Street Journal. 2013-12-10. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  7. ^ a b c Mary T. Barra "Mary Barra: Executive Profile & Biography". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  8. ^ a b "Mary Barra, G.M.’s New Chief, Speaking Her Mind". The New York Times. 2013-12-10. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  9. ^ Bunkley, Nick; Vlasic, Bill (2011-01-20). "G.M. Names New Leader for Global Development". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  10. ^ "About GM: Mary T. Barra". General Motors. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  11. ^ "General Motors (GM): Safety Recalls Add Up to 84 in 2014". Zacks Equity Research. Retrieved 2015-01-05. 
  12. ^ "GM reverses openness pledge: Our view". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-07-23. 
  13. ^ "Is General Motors buying awards for Mary Barra?". Autoblog. Retrieved 2015-01-21. 
  14. ^ "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  15. ^ Goudreau, Jenna (2012). "Mary Barra". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  16. ^ Taylor, Alex. "Mary Barra: GM's next CEO?". CNN/Fortune. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  17. ^ Niskakangas, Tuomas (2013-12-16). "New CEO of automotive icon is of Finnish descent". Helsinki Times. 
  18. ^ Bennett, Jeff; Murray, Sara (2013-12-11). "Longtime Insider Is GM's First Female CEO". The Wall Street Journal. pp. A1, A10. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Daniel Akerson
CEO of General Motors
since January 15, 2014
Succeeded by