Shirley Young, a former General Motors China executive who played a key role in the automaker’s entry into the large Asian market, has passed away at the age of 85.
Young passed away on December 26th due to complications from breast cancer, according to Automotive News. She was born in Shanghai in 1935 and emigrated to the United States when she was ten years old.
Shirley Young is credited with helping to facilitate GM’s expansion into China in the 1990s. She urged GM to enter the market and eventually re-located to Shanghai to help set up the automaker’s newly established joint venture with local company SAIC Motor. China is now GM’s largest market and a crucial part of its business, with the automaker selling 2.9 million vehicles there in 2020. Its U.S. sales, by comparison, totaled 2.5 million units.
Young first joined GM in 1988 after the automaker recruited her from the consulting firm she was working at, Grey Strategic Marketing. She had worked closely with GM in her role as president of the firm, with her work convincing GM leadership to bring her on as an internal employee.
Young left GM in 1999 to start her own consulting firm and later served on the board of various major American corporations, including the Bank of America. She remained with GM in an advisory role, however, helping to oversee the automaker’s Asia-Pacific operations.
Prior to joining GM, Shirley Young was the vice chairman of the nominating committee for the New York Stock Exchange, AN also reports.
Another high-profile former GM Employee, Art Schwartz, passed away in mid-December following a battle with COVID-19. Schwartz was a union negotiator for GM and oversaw the 2009 collective bargaining agreement between then-bankrupt GM, the United Auto Workers union, and the U.S. Treasury.