Mary Barra has been CEO of GM for less than a month, but she's already receiving major accolades. Barra took the top spot in Fortune magazine's first list of the 50 Global Most Powerful Women in Business, ahead of Ginni Rometty, the chairman and CEO of IBM, in second place and Indra Nooyi, the CEO of Pepsi, in third.
Barra has worked at GM for the last 33 years. At 18, she went to the General Motors Institute and started as an engineering intern at a Pontiac factory. In 1990, she got her MBA from Stanford, which propelled her to multiple executive rolls within the company. Before being appointed CEO, she was executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain and was partially responsible for restructuring Opel to simplify its lineup with more global platforms.
"Do every job you're in like you're going to do it for the rest of your life and demonstrate that ownership of it."
Barra also sat down for an interview with Fortune where she talked about her plans for the automaker. "Our goal is to make General Motors the most valuable automotive company," she said. To do that, she wants to strengthen Cadillac and Chevrolet and continue to grow in China. In regards to Cadillac's future, she said: "We have the right products and the right portfolio, and we're committed to regaining our status as a true luxury brand."
She predicts that the next generation of cars will continue to have improved fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. Autonomous driving technology will also become more important, and buyers will want better, less distracting infotainment systems.
Barra says that she has never asked for a promotion or a raise in her entire time with GM. Her personal mantra is, "Do every job you're in like you're going to do it for the rest of your life and demonstrate that ownership of it." She believes that if you produce great results, then you will get noticed. Clearly, that has worked quite well for her.