General Motors has been appointed the company’s first female CEO, Mary Barra, who will replace Dan Akerson early next year.
The ABC and others report that Barra is the fifth CEO in less than five years at Holden’s US parent company, and comes in the same week that the US Treasury – which bailed the car maker out following the GFC – sold the last of its shares in GM.
Barra is 51 and, according to Mashable, started at the company at 19 at its Pontiac division. She has been senior vice president of global product development since 2011, and is currently tasked with reducing the number of global platforms that the company builds cars on.
Akerson, GM’s CEO and chairman, will step down on January 15 after originally planning to do so in mid- to –late 2014. His departure has been hastened by his wife’s diagnosis with an advanced stage cancer.
GM has stressed that Barra’s promotion is based on merit and not gender, and the 33-year GM employee will follow two CEOs at the car maker who came from outside of the automotive industry.
"There's nobody with more years of honest 'car-guy' credentials than she has," said Professor Erik Gordon from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
"She started off as a little-girl car guy. She became a big-girl car guy and how she's a woman car guy. She's the one to do the breakthrough."
According to News Corp, it is unclear if Barra will have the say on whether or not Holden stops manufacturing cars in Australia.