"General Motors CEO Dan Akerson and the GM board have selected product chief Mary Barra to succeed him, the company said today, and Akerson is retiring in January.
The move will make 33-year GM veteran Barra the first woman to lead a global automaker. Arguably, it will make her the highest-profile female CEO in the world.
It also set in motion a cascade of other management changes in the biggest re-set of the automaker’s leadership since the 2009 U.S.-government bailout. But all the moves were internal.
Akerson accelerated the timing of his exit by several months because of his wife’s failing health, GM said.
To GM insiders his selection of the 51-year-old Barra isn’t surprising. Akerson was known to regard Barra highly in what was considered a four-way succession derby among four internal candidates: Barra, the senior vice president for global product development; Mark Reuss, GM’s president of North American operations; Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann; and Vice Chairman Steve Girsky.
But the fact that Barra will become the first female in the highest-profile CEO spot in a historically male-dominated industry is a dramatic development nonetheless. It also comes on the heels of another huge advancement by GM, as the company finally was freed this week from U.S.-government control by the Treasury’s sale of its remaining stake in the company, at a $10.5-billion loss.
“With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today’s GM,” Barra said in a statement. “I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”
Akerson recently turned 65 years old and has been discussing retirement and succession. Tapping Barra to succeed him puts in place another piece of his eventual legacy as a non-”car guy” who has helped, along with the bailout, to significantly reshape General Motors and, arguably, position it for continued recovery.
“I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America’s standard bearer in the global auto industry,” Akerson said in a message to GM employees, its statement said...."