GMI-Kettering graduate named first female CEO of General Motors - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

GMI-Kettering graduate named first female CEO of General Motors

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(12/10/13) - For the first time ever, a woman will be the CEO of General Motors.

Mary Barra will take over at GM in January. She's a graduate of Flint's GMI-Kettering.

GM announced Tuesday that 51-year-old Barra will replace Dan Akerson, who is stepping down because his wife has cancer.

Barra graduated from GMI-Kettering in 1985.

"She was an outstanding student," said Rob McMahan, Kettering University president.

An experience she shared with students during graduation last June.

"When I was 18-years-old, my friends were all working at fast food restaurants and as a Kettering student I was applying engineering skills at a GM assembly plant. That experience was absolutely invaluable for me," Barra said.

Her time in Flint and at GMI-Kettering had a big influence on her.

"She is deeply aware and deeply a part of the culture of Michigan and the culture of the automotive industry," McMahan said.

Barra is currently the company's product development chief, and she's worked for GM for 33 years.

"She is deeply technically talented. She's got very strong skills both as an engineer, it's what she trained as, but also in business," McMahan said.

She has served on the Kettering Board of Trustees since 2009.

"In trustee meetings when Mary starts talking, I stop and I listen because if she's going to say something, I really want to pay attention," McMahan said.

McMahan also says she's a genuinely nice person and should excel at the top of GM.

"Mary is extraordinarily positioned to be a transformative leader in the industry and I'm excited about the future of GM and the automotive industry," he said.

For nearly three years, Barra has held what many say is the most important job in the company - senior vice president for global product development.

She's been in charge of design, engineering and quality of all of GM's vehicles across the globe.

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