GM's New CEO Marks A Return To Tradition
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And here's even bigger news from General Motors, it has chosen a woman as its next chief executive officer, a first in America's auto industry. She's an engineer at the company insider - which could be a lot more important to GM's future than her gender.
Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports.
TRACY SAMILTON, BYLINE: Mary Barra follows in the wake of two CEOs from outside the auto industry. Dan Akerson ran a large private equity fund before taking the helm of GM. Before him, it was Ed Whitaker - a telecommunications guy.
JOHN WOLKONOWICZ: I'm pleased to see them name a GM insider to this position.
SAMILTON: That's independent auto analyst John Wolkonowicz. He says unlike her predecessors, Barra can hit the ground running - because she already knows GM from top to bottom.
WOLKONOWICZ: She's got 33 years in General Motors and she's had a wide array of positions.
SAMILTON: And, Barra is an engineer. Marina Whitman is a former GM vice president who says that is a breath of fresh air that GM sorely needs. She says, other than a brief stint by Robert Stempel...
MARINA WHITMAN: I don't know of any other engineers who've been at the top at GM, at least in post-WWII history. It's mainly been finance people.
SAMILTON: Whitman says Barra inherits a GM that's in much better shape than it was before the bankruptcy, and its cars are a lot better, too. But, she says there's still a huge amount of work to make GM function as one efficient unit.
WHITMAN: So I think there's still plenty on her plate.
SAMILTON: Barra assumes the CEO job at GM on January 15th, just as the Detroit auto show gets under way.
For NPR News, I'm Tracy Samilton.
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