General Motors is caught in a talent race with more companies than ever. GM doesn’t just build cars anymore; the automaker has its hands in industries that require a new set of talent. GM CEO Mary Barra visited Harvard University to pitch GM as a place for young professionals to grow and be a part of something bigger.
The Detroit Free Press reported that Barra spoke to a crowd of students and fielded questions surrounding electric cars, self-driving cars and future jobs during a seminar titled “Gear Up: The Future of Transportation.” The 200 students in attendance also asked Barra what her favorite car to drive is—a Corvette—and whether a child born today will have to learn how to drive a car when they come of age.
CEO Mary Barra responded, “She should because it’s fun.”
She also underscored the fact driving will likely be around for the foreseeable future and self-driving cars will first boom in major urban areas. Those in rural towns likely won’t see robocars until much later.
“There are places in America where, for some people, owning a car is a part of their livelihood,” she added.
The discussion quickly turned to a pitch for GM employment, which a spokesperson underscored.
“We need the best minds and the newest generation of thinkers, doers and innovators,” said GM spokesman David Barnas. “This generation wants to work and have the opportunity to change the world, and GM can give them that chance.”
Barra said the automaker she oversees is the only company handling everything autonomous and self-driving car related under one roof. The automaker purchased Cruise Automation to bolster its self-driving car program, and although it’s a GM subsidiary, the automaker reportedly lets the unit operate like a startup company.
“We’re the only company working on autonomous that has everything under one roof,” Barra said. “But there is very capable competition, and that’s why we have been so aggressive on moving quickly.”
Highlighting GM’s hiring spree are two statistics: GM has brought on 9,000 new employees in the last two years. 40 percent of GM’s 67,000 salaried employees globally are new to the company.