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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 55)
Royal Oak, Michigan, United States
Alma mater Kettering University
Stanford University
Occupation Chairman and CEO, General Motors
Board member of 10; General Dynamics, Disney Stanford University Board of Trustees,[1] Kettering University Board of Trustees[2]
Spouse(s) Anthony E. Barra
Children Nicholas Barra and Rachel Barra
Website Website

Mary Teresa Barra (née Makela; born December 24, 1961) is the Chairman and CEO of General Motors Company. She has held the CEO position since January 15, 2014, and she is the first female CEO of a major global automaker.[3][4] 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.[3][4]

Early life

Barra was born in Royal Oak, Michigan. Her father, Ray Mäkela, worked as a die maker at Pontiac for 39 years.[5] Barra's parents are of Finnish descent.[6][7] Barra attended Waterford schools in Waterford, Michigan. She is a graduate of Waterford Mott High School.


Barra graduated from the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. She then attended Stanford Graduate School of Business on a GM fellowship, receiving her Masters in Business Administration degree in 1990.[8]


General Motors

Barra started working for General Motors at the age of 18[9] as a co-op student in 1980 and subsequently held a variety of engineering and administrative positions, including being the manager of the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant.[8]

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.[8][10] The latter position included responsibilities for design; she has worked to reduce the number of automobile platforms in GM.[3] In August 2013, her Vice President responsibility was extended to include Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.[11]

During her first year as CEO, General Motors was forced to issue 84 safety recalls involving over 30 million cars.[12] Barra was called before the Senate to testify about the recalls and deaths attributed to the faulty ignition switch.[13] Barra and General Motors also came under suspicion of paying for awards to burnish the CEO and corporation's image during that time.[14]

Over the course of her tenure as CEO, Barra has pushed GM as a company transitioning into the tech space pushing forward in the automated driverless car space with major acquisitions including Strobe, a startup focused on driverless technology.[15] Also in 2017 she pushed GM to develop the Chevy Bolt EV, beating rival Tesla in developing the first electric car with a range of 200 miles.[16]


In August 2017, she was elected to the board of Disney.[17] She is the 12th person elected to this board. Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney, has this to say about Barra:

Beyond being an incredibly respected leader of a major U.S. company, Mary is recognized as an agent of change with a relentless focus on quality, safety and, most importantly, consumers. Her ability to adapt to a changing technological and consumer-focused landscape makes her uniquely suited for the Disney board.

Barra and GM are helping Disney with a new project called Test Track, located in the Epcot Center of Disney World in Orlando.[18]

Other Boards and Councils

Barra is a member of the General Dynamics Board of Directors. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Economic Club and as a member of The Business Council. She is also a member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees, the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees for the Detroit Country Day School.[19]

Awards and honors

Barra was listed as one of the world's most powerful women by Forbes, for the fifth time, in 2016. She was most recently listed as the fifth Most Powerful Women, rising from 35th in 2013.[20]

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.[21]

Barra was listed number 1 in Fortune's Most Powerful Women list in 2015, moving from second place the year before.[22]

She remained in the number one spot in Fortune's Most Powerful Women of 2017.[23]

In April 2014, Barra was featured on the cover of Time's "100 Most Influential People in the World."[24]

In December 2016, Barra joined a business forum assembled by then President-Elect Trump to provide strategic and policy advice on economic issues.[25] However, she left the forum in 2017, following Trump's response to the Charlottesville protests.

Personal life


Barra is married to consultant Tony Barra, whom she met while studying at Kettering University, and has two children.[3] The family lives in Northville, a suburb of Detroit.[26]


She has named the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird as her favorite cars.[9]


  1. ^ "GM CEO Barra joins Stanford University board". Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  2. ^ "Kettering University Board of Trustees | Kettering University". Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d Vlasic, Bill (2013-12-10). "G.M. Names First Female Chief Executive". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  4. ^ a b "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. ^ "A Look at Mary Barra, GM's First Female CEO". The Wall Street Journal. 2013-12-10. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  6. ^ Taylor, Alex (2012-12-17). "Mary Barra: GM's next CEO?". CNN/Fortune. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  7. ^ Niskakangas, Tuomas (2013-12-16). "New CEO of automotive icon is of Finnish descent". Helsinki Times. 
  8. ^ a b c Mary T. Barra "Mary Barra: Executive Profile & Biography" Check |url= value (help). Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  9. ^ a b "Mary Barra, G.M.'s New Chief, Speaking Her Mind". The New York Times. 2013-12-10. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  10. ^ Bunkley, Nick; Vlasic, Bill (2011-01-20). "G.M. Names New Leader for Global Development". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  11. ^ "About GM: Mary T. Barra". General Motors. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  12. ^ "General Motors (GM): Safety Recalls Add Up to 84 in 2014". Zacks Equity Research. Retrieved 2015-01-05. 
  13. ^ "GM reverses openness pledge: Our view". USA Today. 2014-07-23. Retrieved 2014-07-23. 
  14. ^ "Is General Motors buying awards for Mary Barra?". Autoblog. Retrieved 2015-01-21. 
  15. ^ Vlasic, Bill (2017-10-09). "G.M. Acquires Strobe, Start-Up Focused on Driverless Technology". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-17. 
  16. ^ Ross, Christopher (2016-04-26). "A Day in the Life of GM CEO Mary Barra". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-11-15. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Disney adds General Motors CEO Mary Barra to its board of directors". LA Times. Retrieved November 15, 2017. 
  19. ^ "Mary Barra - GM Corporate Officer". Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  20. ^ "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  21. ^ Goudreau, Jenna (2012). "Mary Barra". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  22. ^ "Mary Barra". Fortune. Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  23. ^ "Mary Barra". Fortune. Retrieved 2017-04-03. 
  24. ^ Time. 2014-04-24  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ Bryan, Bob (2 Dec 2016). "Trump is forming an economic advisory team with the CEOs of Disney, General Motors, JPMorgan, and more". Business Insider. Retrieved 1 June 2017. 
  26. ^ 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

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