In a commentary piece in Fortune, writer Ben Geier nominates General Motors CEO Mary Barra as his Crisis Manager of the Year. Her ascension to the GM throne on January 15, 2014 was accompanied by fireworks - some celebrating the move, some aimed directly at her. Then, two weeks into the job, a bomb was lobbed in. Or perhaps we could say that a bomb lurking on the premises for more a decade finally went off. That explosion has flared out to 26 million recalled vehicles in the US, 30 million worldwide. The damage includes a $2.7 billion recall tab so far, not to mention the very public revelation that GM knew about the problem since 2004, plus there has been an extrajudicial claims process that has to sift through 2,489 claims so far.

The way Barra has managed those situations over the past 11 months, continued to run the company and change the culture of The General is how she earned Geier's accolade. She did take a few dings for things like an early few days of hide-and-seek and some bland responses when answers did start coming (e.g her first Congressional testimony session). However, since that slight stumble out of the gate, Geier argues she's received far more kudos for her handling of the situation and compassion throughout, having quickly got in front of the situation and stayed there.

It's not like the recall frenzy is over yet, though, and it's far too soon to say we really are dealing with a new GM, again. But by Geier's measuring tape, it's not bad for a first year on the job, and it's fair to imagine that a GM organization that - not so long ago - would have tried to defuse this bomb wearing a set of thick, misshapen mittens provided by its PR and legal departments.

What do you think, is Barra's performance worthy of such high praise? Have your say in Comments.


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