General Motors moved into a new era this week as its first woman chief executive took over the reins from Dan Akerson, the gruff graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, who guided GM out from under government control.
GM veteran Mary Barra will likely face a level of unprecedented scrutiny, said her mentor and predecessor, as she assumes a control of a global company with both newfound momentum and an assortment of serious challenges – among the need to continue regaining share in its home market, a European subsidiary that has been operating deep in the red for 14 years, and increasing competition in the critical Chinese market.
However, the 51-year-old Barra is no stranger to hard work. When she joined GM as an 18-year-old co-op student at GM’s new-abandoned Pontiac Motor Division, she followed her father, a die-maker and member the United Auto Workers Union, into the factories in Pontiac, Michigan.