Mary T. Barra, incumbent CEO at General Motors, started her career at GM in 1980. Back then, she was still a college student at Kettering University. Since her humble beginnings, Ms. Barra has climbed to the top of the corporate ladder at GM. You may have read some interesting news about Mary Barra recently. This August, she was added to the board of directors at the Walt Disney Company. This is an interesting move, as Disney appears to be consolidating power – especially now that they have purchased 21st-Century Fox.
What will come of this remains to be seen. However, Mary T. Barra is more than just a corporate power player. She has led an interesting, boundary-breaking, female-empowering life that is worth knowing more about. So, in this article, we bring you Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Mary Barra.
She is the Top-Paid Auto CEO
Mary Barra outpaced the CEOs of Ford ($22.1 million; Mark Fields), Fiat Chrysler ($10.6 million; Sergio Marchionne), and Volkswagen ($7.7 million; Matthias Müller) in her earnings for 2016. She pulled in $22.6 million, making her the highest paid automobile CEO in America. This is an impressive salary, and serves as a testament to her formidable talent as a businesswoman.
She is the First Female CEO in the Industry
Not only does Ms. Barra pull in huge stacks, she also is the first U.S. woman to be elected the CEO of an automobile manufacturing company. This should be inspiring for women everywhere – even in a traditionally male-dominated industry, a woman’s hard work and perseverance can result with her at the helm in a 21st-Century society.
She’s an Engineer
Though Mary Barra’s current job of CEO is a business-oriented position – which she is particularly well-equipped for, given her Masters of Business Administration from Stanford and considerable experience – she originally studied to become an electrical engineer.
She was in this program when she started at GM, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Kettering University in 1985. Her engineering education was likely indispensable during her work with General Motors.
She Was on the Cover of Time Magazine
Following her move to the CEO position back in 2013, Mary Barra was included in Time’s list of the 100 Most Influential People – even scoring the coveted spot on the cover of Time Magazine. The accompanying article describes her breaking gender barriers in the auto industry. It also provides fair expectations for the future – that only time will judge the job Mary Barra is doing for General Motors – and so far, she’s doing a fantastic job.
Her Favorite Cars are Camaros and Firebirds
Staying loyal to her company, the CEO listed ’67-’69 convertible Camaros and Firebirds as her favorite cars. These are both a GM product – we’d be shocked if they weren’t – but they are also classic rides that show an impeccable taste in vehicles.
She’s a Second-Generation Worker at GM
Mary Barra isn’t the first in her family to work for General Motors. Her father worked as a die-maker for Pontiac long before Mary Barra started in 1980. In fact, the man worked at the same plant for nearly 40 years. Perhaps a desire to follow in her father’s footsteps got her started – but now she has a strong legacy of her own.
She Doesn’t Always Like Fame
In an interview with Mary Barra, the prominent CEO expressed some annoyance with being recognized constantly. Though she attempts to wear ballcaps or otherwise hide her identity, she still has fewer moments of anonymity after becoming CEO of General Motors. However, she does mention that she enjoys routine chores like grocery shopping because they give her some time to be by herself.
She Didn’t Plan to Become CEO
In another interview with Ms. Barra, she was asked when she decided she was going to try to become the CEO of General Motors. Her response was interesting – she never actually had a five or ten-year plan to become CEO. Rather, she always wanted to just do the best she could in the position she was in. That attitude is probably what got her the job in the end!
She Served on an Economic Advisory Team for Donald Trump
Last December, a new economic advisory team formed by President Trump included Mary T. Barra as one of the multiple corporate members. Though she remained on this team for some time, she left after she disagreed with Trump’s response to the Charlottesville protests.
She Keeps Toy Cars and a Bobblehead on Her Desk
Mary T. Barra has a lighthearted side as well: to keep her spirits up, she keeps several model cars and a bobblehead on her desk at General Motors. Who is the bobblehead of? None other than Albert Einstein! A fitting choice for this intelligent businesswoman.
After 37 years at General Motors, Mary T. Barra continues to run the company with a killer economic sense. Massive profits are a certainty for this smart CEO and her company. Ms. Barra serves as an inspiration for women everywhere, and a testament to what hard work can bring to a person’s life.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker