General Motors’ Mary Barra will become the automotive industry’s first female chief executive officer when she succeeds current GM boss Dan Akerson next month.
Current CEO Akerson, 65, has pulled forward his plans to retire after his wife was diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer, a GM statement confirmed.
His successor Barra, 51, is GM’s current product development chief, a role she has held for just under two years. She has 33 years of experience at GM, having started as an intern on the factory floor.
Steve Girsky, the man who had widely been expected to take over from Akerson should he solve GM’s problems in Europe, will instead leave the company in April after a short stint in an advisory role. He will remain on the GM board, however.
Akerson has held the top job at GM since September 2010, and he has overseen GM’s return to profit and exit from government ownership after the credit crunch forced the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US.
“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,” said Akerson in a GM statement.
Barra added: “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. I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”
Barra’s product role will be filled by Mark Reuss, presently GM’s North America region chief. Alan Batey, Chevrolet’s sales and marketing chief, replaces him.