General Motors engineer Gerald Johnson has been recognized for his efforts to help the American automaker weather the COVID-19 pandemic, receiving the prestigious Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) at the recent BEYA STEM conference.
Gerald Johnson is the vice president of Global Manufacturing at GM and is “responsible for quality and safety performance for 103,000 employees, representing more than 129 manufacturing facilities on five continents in 16 countries,” the automaker says. His job was particularly important throughout 2020, as he was tasked with managing GM’s manufacturing business amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“When production at GM was temporarily suspended at the beginning of the pandemic, Johnson and his team worked across the company to quickly and effectively shift manufacturing and engineering resources to ventilators and mask production for frontline health workers,” GM said in a statement. “He is credited with spearheading the company’s robust safety protocols and return-to-work strategies that made it possible to safely reopen GM plants and other operations.”
Johnson started his career at GM more than 40 years ago, when he was hired on as a co-up student from what is now Kettering University. He became the youngest ever superintendent of the company’s Fisher Body Stamping Plant at the age of 24 and was the first African American to hold the plant manager position at Mansfield Plant Stamping Operations. He was also GM Europe’s first African American executive director of Manufacturing.
“Manufacturing has been Gerald’s passion since he was an 18-year-old co-op student, and he has dedicated his career to continuously improving how we build vehicles and components with the highest level of quality and efficiency,” GM CEO Mary Barra said of the accomplished engineer. “His leadership and steadfast integrity have made General Motors a better company.”
The Black Engineer of the Year conference aims to promote diversity within the engineering community and create networking communities for working professionals, educators and students. This year’s edition of the annual conference will be held online from February 11th through to the 13th.