In an interview with CNBC‘s Kate Kelly at the Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women’s conference, GM CEO Mary Barra answered questions regarding her philosophy and outlook on STEM – science, technology, math, and engineering.
For those who are interested in what was said, here’s a portion of the Q&A
Kate Kelly: What is your philosophy on mentoring young women in particular those who might be interested in stem fields and engineering specifically, which is your background?
Mary Barra: Right. Well I think, first of all, I want to create interest for everyone – for science, technology, math and engineering because it’s so important. There’s not a single industry that you can be involved in where technology isn’t having an impact. So science and math at that middle school, high school is so important because it’s a foundation to take you wherever you want to go. So that’s my message for young women and young men.
Kate Kelly: So when you think about it, you have a really diverse resume. I mean people think of you as an engineer, which of course you are. But you also ran HR, you also did a spell in internal communications. Did those skills, those various skills come into play in terms of the ignition failure crisis that you faced shortly after getting your current job? How did that range of experiences give you a hand?
Mary Barra: Well, I think it’s helped me in all aspects of my career, and really in communications, just understanding the power of having a good message and so people know what’s going on so you can motivate them, so you can keep them informed. Because people, I think, will act and support you if they understand what’s happening. So communications was vitally important and something that we did regularly. I would also say from an HR perspective, I really – you know, through my career at General Motors, have gotten to know the men and women of General Motors. And they care. And they want to do the right thing. And so a lot of it is just giving them the tools and the systems and the processes to do that. And so, you know, both were very important.
There was more to it, of course, but that was the basic gist of the conversation. As you can see, Barra isn’t discrediting the importance of liberal arts and communication – which is important to us writers. She’s simply emphasizing the importance of STEM subjects, a clarification we think should be recognized.
Another noteworthy topic of the discussion was GM‘s projected future after this stream of success they’ve had recently. Barra stated that the awareness of the cyclical industry, along with the “tremendous asset” in OnStar and the 4G LTE connectivity, should keep things progressing; or as she puts it, “there isn’t a drop coming.” And with Apple CarPlay launching in GM vehicles now, Android Auto on deck, and autonomous driving on the horizon, it sure seems that way.