A portrait of GM CEO Mary Barra from Time.
It was “a trying first 100 days” for General Motors CEO Mary Barra, writes one influential automotive analyst, but perhaps it’s paying off. The daughter of a GM “shop rat” who worked her way up to the top from a starting job as a co-op student has been named to the annual “Time 100” list of the world’s most influential people.
The first woman to run a major automaker, Barra was appointed to her post late last year following the unexpectedly early retirement of her predecessor, Dan Akerson. The appointment generated a wave of positive headlines, even a tweet from the likes of celebrity singer Bette Midler.
But while Barra got off to a seemingly strong start – two GM models sweeping the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards in early January – she was quickly caught up in one of the worst scandals GM has suffered in years, the inexplicably delayed recall of 2.6 million vehicles equipped with faulty ignition switches.
Yet, unlike some top executives who try to stay out of the spotlight, Barra quickly put herself directly under it, repeatedly apologizing for GM’s mistakes and making it clear the buck stopped at her desk on the top floor of the maker’s Renaissance Center headquarters along the Detroit River.