Mary Barra is the CEO at General Motors and the first woman in history to head one of the “Big Three” American automakers.
Barra’s life has always been linked to the automobile industry and to Detroit. Her father, an immigrant of Finnish descent, worked for Pontiac for 39 years and at 18 Mary started working at GM as a co-op student. She then climbed to the top of the Company.
Barra graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in GMI Engineering and Management Institute, which is now Kettering University. In 1990 the automaker sponsored her to study at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where she received an MBA.
In 2014, Barra took over the leadership position at GM during a difficult period. When a decade long cover-up by the company involving faulty vehicle ignition switches installed in several car models. Her actions to supervise the recalls and, minimize the unfavorable publicity that surrounded them, were widely lauded in the business world.
She testified before Congress and apologized for her company’s unwillingness to address the issues. In 2018 she made unpopular news again, when she announced the closing of five North American plans.
The mother of two, Barra was selected by Time magazine as one of 100 Most Influential People,” Forbes’ nominated her as the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.