GM’s Mary Barra Has a Plan to Win the Electric Vehicle Race

GM Die Maker’s daughter Ms. Bara, 60, grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan and began working as an intern at the GM plant at the age of 18 while studying electrical engineering at the company’s technical college, now known as Catering University. Through a GM Fellowship, she earned a Masters in Business Administration at Stanford. Since entering the management ranks, she has held top positions in global manufacturing, human resources, product development and supply chain management.

In January 2014, she married Daniel F. Ackerson was named chief executive and became the first woman to head a large auto company. Ms. Bara guided GM through a scandal involving an ignition-switch fault associated with a crash that resulted in more than 100 deaths. She then made a series of decisions that showed that General Motors, which had recently emerged from bankruptcy, was not the conservative, lumbering giant that consumers and investors had known for a century.

In a move that was once unthinkable, she decided to exit the European market, a region of slow growth and low margins where GM has been making losses for two decades. GMA sold its European operations to Peugeot SA of France, now part of Stalantis. Sales include the Opel division, which has been owned by GM since 1929.

She said losing money over the years had helped businesses “change the whole mindset.” “The whole company went, ‘Well, this is a new day.’

GM, which for a long time took pride in developing its own technology, also got automated vehicle start-up, cruise automation. In other antecedents, GMA Honda and T. It has brought in outside investors, including Row Price, to share the costs and risks of spending billions on self-driving vehicles.

Along the way, Ms. Bara formed a close partnership with Shri. Reuss, a contemporary who was a candidate for the top job in 2014. He, too, has spent his career at GM and was followed by his own father, Lloyd Reese, a former president of the company.

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