We’ve written a lot about the changes happening at General Motors over the last few months. GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra has been at the forefront of much of that coverage, as she is the public face of the company. However, many of the decisions the automaker has made in the last few months have involved the company’s board of directors who are “actively engaged in helping her run the company on a regular basis,” according to the Detroit Free Press, which is said to be “unusual.”
“It’s a very involved board,” Barra said at the annual Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry conference in Detroit Wednesday. “We’ve got to face the brutal fact and understand what’s happening and seize opportunities as opposed—and lead disruption instead of being disrupted. As we start to think of something new or we see an opportunity, we have a discussion. And then we’ll bring it up again at the next board meeting; or if things are moving so quickly, we all jump on a call.”
The board consists of a wide range of people who have all had a hand in the company’s operations, including day-to-day operations and larger strategic movies that include proposals to build electric vehicles, autonomous cars, and more. The board also had a hand in General Motors’ restructuring plan announced in November, which includes closing five North American facilities and discontinuing several models—such as the Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Impala, and Buick LaCrosse.
Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, said in the Freep report that Barra relying on her board of directors isn’t indicative of a weak candidate. According to Gordon, her reliance shows competence.
“Nobody would say Mary is a weak leader,” Gordon added. “If she continues down this path she’ll be one of the legendary leaders in the car industry.”
During the conference, Morgan Stanley Analyst Adam Jonas said several investors asked about changing the company’s name to coincide with the company’s restructuring. He would not discount the idea that a name change is possible. Jonas also said Barra was “kicking butt” in her role as General Motors’ Chairman and CEO.