“Do your job as if you’re ready to do it for the rest of your life”. Principles by Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors
She is one of the brightest representatives of the business world and for several years in a row has been the top five most influential women in the world according to both Fortune and Forbes. The name of Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, is mentioned when it comes to the values of companies, the role of women in business, and strong, tough and high ground decisions. Mary Barra started the game on foreign territory, having managed to enter the elite primordially male “auto club”. And she made this territory her own.
Her job as CEO of General Motors did not start with bouquets and greetings. Mary Barra, the first woman to hold such a high position in the concern, immediately faced the unbearable pain of a dozen parents who lost their children due to the negligence of her company’s engineers.
Young people died in monstrously similar accidents: they suddenly lost control of the car, the keys in the ignition did not obey them, and the airbags did not deploy. And most importantly, they all drove 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt cars.
The newly minted General Motors CEO had to console his parents, find the right words for them and save the concern’s reputation in every possible way. Mary Barra understood that, despite her 33 years of experience in her beloved company, she would have to radically change its culture and improve the quality of production.
She remembers this company from 1985, when she just got a job at General Motors as a quality inspector at the Pontiac plant, which produced Fiero sports cars. By the way, the company then paid for the training of a young employee under the MBA program at Stanford University. And now she must repay this debt.
Later, competent publications will write that it was Mary Barra who managed to bring order to the company, which has replaced five CEOs over the past six years. It will take steps to restore its reputation due to management abuse and save General Motors from bankruptcy.
“What I’ve learned is, first of all, that you need to embody your own values, and not just write words on paper. All we did was the demonstration of our values. We put the client in the center, and we ourselves were transparent. It has allowed our company to become much stronger,” said CEO of General Motors Mary Barra in Washington, at the Fortune Summit dedicated to the unveiling of the list of the most influential women in the world.
She drew conclusions from the reputation scandal around faulty ignition locks and announced the decision to recall 700,000 cars first, and later three times as many. Having eliminated the problem with the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt cars, Mary Barra did not calm down and recalled another 13.6 million cars.
Possible defects in them were minor – for example, headlights malfunction, which was eliminated in any nearest service station, minor defects in seat belts. Everything was checked. And also the safety control at General Motors’ production was tightened. Thanks to the strong-willed decisions of Mary Barra, in 2015 the concern took the third place in the number of cars sold in the world.
“Making cars is a team sport. I am leading a team that should become a winner all over the world,” the CEO noted with pleasure. Two years later, she was named the highest paid CEO in the automotive industry in the world. Today General Motors is among the top ten largest companies in the United States of America. “Great products are our secret to success,” says Mary Barra.
Mary’s leadership qualities and ability to act in crisis situations help her to successfully manage the concern, correctly allocate personnel, and conduct complex negotiations. She actively supports and implements innovation in the automotive industry.
“Today we have to equip the car with the kind of technology that makes it compatible with a phone that didn’t even exist when the car was first developed,” says Mary Barra.
The 2018 Global Gender Equality Report highlights the outstanding success of General Motors, a concern that has no gender pay gap.
“I always advise young women not to end their careers unnecessarily early. To avoid harassment in the workplace, you need to create a culture where everyone’s voice will be heard and the person will feel significant, “General Motors CEO said in an interview. Three years ago, for the first time in the more than 110-year history of the auto concern, the post of financial director also went to a woman – Dhivya Suryadevara became the top manager.
However, General Motors’ current success is much more than a successful female duo as CFO and CEO.
“I believe there are fundamental elements of success,” says Mary Barra. “Mentoring, hard work and openness to feedback are just a few of them. Do your job as if you’re ready to do it for the rest of your life”.