General Motors CEO Mary Barra continues to change the way the company does things. Since her appointment to lead the Detroit automaker, Barra has handled crisis after crisis, all while keeping her north star on a disruptive future in the auto industry. It’s made her “impatient” yet calculated in her decision-making process, according to a CNN Business profile.
General Motors received heavy criticism when it announced its massive restructuring plan last November, designed to save the company $6 billion before 2020. Layoffs, “unallocated” factories, and model discontinuations didn’t sit well with many. However, Barra is preparing GM for the future. As she says in her interview with CNN Business, her primary responsibility is to ensure the automaker does not repeat the same mistakes that required a government bailout to save the company.
Since she became CEO, Mary Barra has done much to streamline the corporate bureaucracy within GM. She wanted to create an atmosphere where no one was afraid to speak up, and one where everyone would be heard. This push came out of the ignition switch scandal that led to 124 documented deaths. It’s something Barra says she wants to permanently plant in the automaker’s history, never putting the incident behind them.
Much of her decisiveness comes from her experience as an engineer. She doesn’t over analyze, making quick decisions and adapting along the way to changing factors. Selling Opel and Vauxhall proved to be the right financial move, but the company lost engineering and design talent in the sale, which is something GM had to shore up afterward.
Now, General Motors is embarking on a new course, using high-profit models to help subsidize GM’s future that’ll be filled with autonomous and electric vehicles. The future is coming, and GM doesn’t want to be caught off guard again like what happened less than a decade ago when the company filed for bankruptcy.
When Mary Barra became CEO, she said she expected to see more change in the auto industry over the next five years than what was seen in the last 50. She’s preparing for that future.