Mary Barra - General Motors - headshotGeneral Motors CEO Dan Akerson has been quoted as saying Mary Barra is on the list of his potential successors. Akerson has been adamant about the fact that the next head honcho for General Motors should come from within the automaker's ranks. Reuters reports the executive believes it is crucial for GM to increase the number of female top executives in the company, and he believes that women handle change better than men.

Barra, 50, currently serves as GM's global product development chief, commanding a $15 billion operation. She first joined GM in 1980 and has served in a variety of capacities since then, including vice president in charge of global human resources. Even with his comments on Barra, Akerson stressed that at the end of the day, it's the GM board's job to pick his successor.

And what of the U.S. Treasury? Technically, the government owns a little more than a quarter of GM stock, but Akerson said the decision remains entirely in the hands of the company's decision makers. Other candidates for the position are said to include Mark Reuss, GM's North American operations boss and Steve Girsky, vice chairman.