SHE-E-O FEATURE OF THE WEEK: Mary Barra

How have female CEO’s risen to the top? What was their journey? Let’s explore…

I’m empowered. I have the skills. I’m ready to take on the world. Now, if I could just figure out tangible steps to get there. This series has two purposes: to celebrate women’s accomplishments in business, and to research their path to success.

Notable things you should know about Mary Barra:
1) Barra is the first woman to lead any major automaker
2) Barra took GM into a moderately risky direction since taking over as CEO in 2014. Barra has invested billions in electric vehicles, self driving cars, and ride share services
3) BS in Engineering, MBA in Business Administration (shout out to my left brained women!)
4) GM ranked #1 on the 2018 Global Report on Gender Equality representing one of two companies that have no gender pay gap
5) Barra is the highest paid auto CEO in the world male or female.

Mary Barra is a lifer at GM. She started as an intern at age 18 while she was finishing her engineering degree at Kettering University. Her responsibility as an intern was to inspect fender and hood panels at a Pontiac plant.

Once she received her degree in electrical engineering, she started as a senior engineer at a Pontiac plan. During this time, GM paid for her Masters at Stanford Business School.

With her MBA, she was able to transition to manager, running manufacturing planning.

Then came a critical step – executive assistant to GM’s CEO.

From there she took on a variety of roles including Executive Director, Vehicle Manufacturing Engineering, Vice President Global Manufacturing Engineering, and Vice President Global Human Resources.

The final step before taking over as CEO was when she was SVP of Global Product Development where she determining the look, feel, and engineering of GM’s most important products.

Finally in 2014 she was appointed as CEO of GM, making her-story.

In my opinion, having an ally in high places is a key to rising to the top. Getting the opportunity to shine in front of the right people is critical to moving up into the C-suite. Perhaps Mary Barra is on to something?

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