Mary Barra May Make Me Buy a GM
It is really hard for me to express fully just how happy I was that a person I have never met and will likely never met got a promotion. But when NPR told me that Mary Barra was just promoted to CEO of General Motors, well, I’ve been smiling and raising toasts to her good health ever since. And then to learn that she is not some mobile or finance executive (no offense to mobile executives!), not some Ivy-league killer elite, not some outsider the board brought in to “shake things up”, but a dyed in the wool gear head, a woman who worked her way up from engineering to head up global product development and purchasing to become CEO a woman who loves GM and vehicles, well, no recent news has made me happier.
The only thing that would make her promotion even sweeter would be to find out she is a mother (she is, two children!!) with a ridiculously supportive stay at home husband or wife (husband works as a consultant, can’t have everything)!
There are so few real examples out there of women leading companies that we have to celebrate them when they happen. I felt the same way with Marissa Meyers. And I like the fact that Marissa isn’t trying to tell me how to live or giving me meaningless advice in book or salon form. I like the fact she is – she is there at Yahoo and she is in charge.
And I look forward to following Mary Barra’s career. General Motors has suffered a long time without having a product champion at the helm. There are some businesses that should not be headed by consultants, investment bankers, and hedge fund managers. I wholeheartedly agree that businesses that develop and sell products to end-consumers need someone at the top that loves the products their company makes and sells.
And Mary’s favorite car is a bitchin’ Camero. Rock on. Now I have that Dead Milkmen song stuck in my head.
Marissa Meyer makes perfect sense for Yahoo. She developed digital content and is clearly passionate about the space and knows what she is doing. Mary Barra makes perfect sense because she is an engineer, a mechanical engineer, a woman who spent 30+ years at GM, through thick and thin, holding a myriad of positions.
It’s like Toyota and Ford – I think they are better companies making better products because they have passionate product people (and family members) leading their companies, focusing not just on “the bottom line”, but on making great products.
My father loved GM cars and trucks. I grew up in GM products. My first car was a Caprice Classic and it was a tank. I, however, did not love GM products and when it came time to spend my own money, I bought VWs. Then again, I think I like driving more than my father! And I know a BMW/Audi/Mercedes/Porsche/Jaguar is in my future… simple reminder to Eric, I do have a birthday coming up.
I am ridiculously, shamelessly biased when it comes to professional women. I only see female doctors and dentists. I actively try really hard to spend my money at places where women are treated fairly, own the business, are in charge, or very positively visible. Hell, I started Women in Automotive Technology happy hours, just to try and count the number of women in the Silicon Valley in automotive tech!! I was so shocked at how few women I ran into at tech events, I challenged myself with finding a few!! Glad to report, that we do exist and our numbers are growing.
In fact, at our last Women in Automotive Technology happy hour, we toasted endlessly to Mary Barra. Granted, it almost turned into a drinking game, but we were just really psyched. I could not even let it piss me off that they only named her CEO and not Chairwoman, even though her predecessor had both titles. THAT is just another ceiling for her to shatter. Click here for more information on Women in Automotive Technology.
With Mary Barra now in charge, I fully expect GM products to get more interesting and by that I mean better and desirable. Maybe even to someone like me. I know just by the fact GM put her in charge, I will honestly put GM on my shopping list, a place it has NEVER been.