• Jan 18, 2014
Mary Barra officially began her tenure as the CEO of General Motors this week, and no one is happier about that than longtime GM executive and auto industry titan Bob Lutz. "Mary is the right person at the right time," said Lutz, who was attending the Detroit Auto Show and touting one of his recent ventures, VIA Motors.

In a conversation with Autoblog, Lutz credited Barra as the leader behind an array of inspiring new products that have led the once-beleaguered automaker out of bankruptcy and into the forefront of a much healthier auto industry. On Monday, GM won both North American Car of the Year and Truck/Utility Of The Year awards for the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and Silverado, respectively.

Barra is the first female to lead one of Detroit's Big Three. It's a milestone worth marking, though Lutz deems any questions about the role of her gender as dubious. "Why are we surprised?" he asked. "Israel had Golda Meir. Margaret Thatcher was probably the best prime minister in the history of England. Angela Merkel is in Germany. This isn't a question anymore."


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 44 Comments
      cpmanx
      • 11 Months Ago
      Although the Autoblog story highlights Barra's role in product development, her reputation lies more as someone who was good at streamlining management and operations, allowing faster decisions and a more unified business plan throughout the company. Those are really important skills...if she is also surrounded by product visionaries. I suspect that's what Lutz means about the "right person at the right time." She might not be the best person for dreaming up groundbreaking new vehicle designs...but if GM is now in a more healthy position regarding the product pipeline, what it really needs is someone who can reduce production costs, get the different GM units working together more efficiently, and overall make the company's notorious bureaucracy leaner and more responsive. Those needs seem to align well with Barra's strengths. Some background, for instance: http://www.businessinsider.com/meet-new-gm-ceo-mary-barra-2014-1
        Jerry
        • 11 Months Ago
        @cpmanx
        Well said. If she can break up the good ole boy middle management club, GM would be infinitely stronger. Someone needs to tie middle management to quality issues too. They get graded on program execution timing like it is going out of style, but never hardly ever get pegged for quality issues resulting from rushed development. I wish her the best. Seems really genuine.
      machineman
      • 11 Months Ago
      Mary is the right person at the right time even though she kicked me in the balls when I tried to nail her in the boardroom : Bob Lutz
      Ducman69
      • 11 Months Ago
      Get ready for the "Danica Patrick" effect, where mediocre performance is met with tremendous praise and public attention because, gasp, vagina.
        drew
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Ducman69
        Someone sounds primed for negative response.
        Bernard
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Ducman69
        She is not Danica, and Danica couldn't hold a candle to a real female racing legend like Michelle Mouton: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mich%C3%A8le_Mouton GM can't afford to play favorites; either Mary will perform or she will be replaced. Her records show every reason to be hopeful, so you can save the hate.
      ROLO
      • 11 Months Ago
      CEOS always take credit for everything. I mean if they mention a vehicle what does that say about the people who perfected it. None of these were HER ideas at all she didn't design test or create anything. Being on a team means teamwork. Which part of what car did she make. CEOs are talking heads who need to resume that role. GET off twitter and the rest. go back to us not seeing you. Now they are like cards getting shuffled repeatedly. Remember when a CEO just ran a company and you only saw the picture of them cause they were busy working.
        cpmanx
        • 11 Months Ago
        @ROLO
        "CEOS always take credit for everything." No they don't--at least, good managers (which really exist) do not. At any rate, I haven't seen any interviews in which Barra says any such thing. She is popular inside the company and has a fairly strong track record in reorganizing GM's HR system & its manufacturing operations. As for the good old CEOs...you mean the ones like Robert McNamara, or JP Morgan, or Andrew Carnegie? Those kinds of invisible CEOs, who kept their heads down and stayed out of the public realm?
        juststudent
        • 11 Months Ago
        @ROLO
        CEO is the ultimate manager, what they do is to MANAGE. Imagine if you elect GM CEO just because he's excellent engineer. Will he knows how to deal with design? financial? union? suppliers? dealers? choosing technical advisors? Probably he'll spend resources to build over-the-top 600hp Malibu and price it $100k because 'tell me what other sub $100k 600hp family car? It sure will sells like hotcake because it's a perfection'.
        Ducman69
        • 11 Months Ago
        @ROLO
        If it worked for Steve Jobs, why not for her? Steve Jobs had absolutely no technical competence whatsoever, yet virtually claimed to be responsible for every piece of technology Apple brought to market... after all it was HIS idea to have rounded corners. xD
        Ben Lee
        • 11 Months Ago
        @ROLO
        I get what Rolo is saying
      James
      • 11 Months Ago
      Who cares. She is stuck living in that hole called Metro Detroit. And, she is old. Life is too short to spend anytime in that pit. Rank and file wall street traders routinely make millions before the age of 35. So, they get their money young, and the get to live on the east or west coast. That whole auto industry and the Metro Detroit area is just a complete joke.
        Jerry
        • 11 Months Ago
        @James
        Downtown might surprise you. It's the ring of blight around downtown that is scary.
        speterjr
        • 11 Months Ago
        @James
        I visited Detroit last year, and Metro Detroit is not quite the hole it is portrayed to be in the media. Mary Barra will NOT get gangraped in the lobby of the Renaissance Center. And she's just the right age to be a CEO of a multinational corporation. She has an engineering degree, and has constructively contributed to GM her entire adult life. She has had more of an impact than some greedy hotshots on Wall Street, and unlike them, actually does something that benefits others besides herself.
        richard
        • 11 Months Ago
        @James
        Have you ever even BEEN in metro Detroit, or do you just parrot all the BS you hear? Your probably one of those dopes who drive a jap car, anyway.
          Ben Lee
          • 11 Months Ago
          @richard
          "jap car", nice Richard. smh
      m_2012
      • 11 Months Ago
      Look at her face, after being asked if she is getting paid less as a woman. Take his salary and knock $100K off just because she is a woman. Yada yada about the bonuses, I am sure he had the same bonus plan. GM, yet again, should be ashamed.
      mylexicon
      • 11 Months Ago
      I don't know much about Barra, but I worry about the reasons behind her ascension to CEO. Her appointment appears to be surface-deep defective political reasoning. Conventional wisdom is that GM was killed by the old-boys-club of disinterested, stodgy plutocrats. For creatures of politics and marketing, the cure is obvious: Don't hire another old man after the government bails out; hire a youngish woman to captain the ship. Unfortunately, this line of reasoning is no less ridiculous than the reasoning used by all of the hapless voters who thought a young black president would magically make DC functional. Next election cycle, I fear that the incompetent former Secretary of State will be given the role of Commander in Chief, for no reason other than her lack of Y chromosome. Normative cultural ethic is virtually meaningless. Competence is the difference maker. I hope Barra has it.
        Jaybird248
        • 11 Months Ago
        @mylexicon
        Have you read Lutz's Beancounters book. He really gives it to the suits at GM, basically hates their guts. If he says Barra is good, that goes against his grain and I tend to believe him. If he gives her credit for the great product GM is now building, that's all I need to know. The money will come in time. Heck, I'd rather have stock options anyway, given the income tax rates. You go, girl!
          mylexicon
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Jaybird248
          Lutz endorsement is helpful, but the metaphors are somewhat mixed. "Right person right time" smacks of hollow political nonsense, but his anecdotes are encouraging.
          cpmanx
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Jaybird248
          I'd like to see the full interview. Without that, the single highlighted quote means little. I've done plenty of Q&As. Depending on which words the editor focuses on, he can create very different take-away messages.
        davido
        • 11 Months Ago
        @mylexicon
        "Competence is the difference maker. I hope Barra has it." Has it occurred to you that if she'd lacked competence she never would have held the positions she held before she came CEO? No, that probably never occurred to you. But clear thinking is a form of competence isn't it?
          mylexicon
          • 11 Months Ago
          @davido
          Your post is called begging the question or circular reasoning, and I have idea why you would burden the rest of us with it. Furthermore, you missed the point of my post, which questioned the motivation, culture, and capacity of the people making the decisions.
          m_2012
          • 11 Months Ago
          @davido
          Because no other GM mangers are incompetent? She comes from the breed that brought this once great company to its knees. Odds are (I hope not) that she is just as bad, incompetent, lazy, and greedy as the rest of them. Hackerson is a complete joke, so they can't do any worse really even if they just randomly picked someone. That said, I hope she really does bring some good to GM.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 11 Months Ago
        @mylexicon
        "I don't know much about Barra", but you are going to say some sexist nonsense against her regardless.
      Lachmund
      • 11 Months Ago
      who cares?
        over9000
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Lachmund
        She's not German is that why?
          Lachmund
          • 11 Months Ago
          @over9000
          I don't know. Tell me. I'm sure if she was german people would care more. I wouldn't.. I hated Thatcher and I hate Angela Merkel like most Germans do.
      sixsix
      • 11 Months Ago
      So out of all the qualified men she was the most qualified? Don't buy it. Sounds like another legislated appointment PR stunt. GM gets a bailout so the government gets their legislated female CEO. Not saying she isn't talented, just saying she wasn't selected on merit alone.
        cpmanx
        • 11 Months Ago
        @sixsix
        You say this based on...what?
        Jerry
        • 11 Months Ago
        @sixsix
        Nah, she will do OK. I would have picked Mark Reuss, but he is going to kick ass as product lead. They might really compliment each other well in their new respective positions.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 11 Months Ago
        @sixsix
        Actually her appointment was announced AFTER the US government sold all its shares.
      Lachmund
      • 11 Months Ago
      who cares?
      thecommentator2013
      • 11 Months Ago
      From her first few talks......I like her. Barra could be very good for GM. If not, she's gone faster than she came.
        m_2012
        • 11 Months Ago
        @thecommentator2013
        If she is not right for the job, they will boost her bonus options and keep her right there. They refuse to get rid of bad management, even after they drive the worlds largest automaker into the depths of bankruptcy. Cash their checks and plow forward.
      citroen_2cv
      • 11 Months Ago
      "Why are we surprised?" he asked. "Israel had Golda Meir. Margaret Thatcher was probably the best prime minister in the history of England. Angela Merkel is in Germany. This isn't a question anymore." Bob Lutz Did they cut their base salary ? that's why we are surprised Bob.
    • Load More Comments