Akerson: New GM Chief Barra Will Transform Company Image

Mary Barra

Soon-to-be former General Motors (NYSE:GM) CEO Dan Akerson had some warm words for his incoming successor, Mary Barra, as he said that Barra’s appointment instantly transformed the image of GM into that of a more progressive company, Automotive News quoted him as saying.

Barra, currently General Motors’ global product chief, is set to take the helm from Akerson next week. She’ll be the first female CEO at the company and was picked ”because of her contributions and solid performance over three decades,” Akerson told an audience at the Detroit Athletic Club’s Executive Club, per Automotive News. Since GM announced her promotion last month, ”we are viewed so much more differently than our competition,” Akerson added.

“About six months to a year ago, it started to really congeal in my mind: What better way to shake up how General Motors is viewed if we can diversify the management of the company?” Akerson said during his speech.

Automotive News reports that Akerson said he has pushed to eradicate the “institutional inertia” of GM’s corporate culture, aimed to simplify the infamous bureaucracy that has bogged down GM and made the company more resistant to quick change and adaption. The idea is also meant to increase accountability among company leaders and employees. Barra has played a big role in doing so in her position as the head of global supply chains and products.

Akerson also took a moment to recognize the importance that women play at General Motors. “[Akerson] noted that women either are the chief decision makers or significantly influence the purchase decisions for two-thirds of the GM vehicles sold,” Automotive News said.

“Just to get people to consider, to look at our product. We’re a different company,” Akerson said, per the publiation. “I think that was a side benefit. But it is one that I think could make a difference.”

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