New GM CEO hopes to inspire science students - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

New GM CEO hopes to inspire science students

Posted: Updated:

DETROIT (AP) - The incoming CEO of General Motors hopes her appointment as the first woman to lead a global automaker will inspire young women and men to pursue careers in science.

Mary Barra's first appearance before reporters since getting the job in December eclipsed the glitzy rollout of the GMC Canyon small pickup truck Sunday at an old industrial building north of Downtown Detroit.

Barra, who officially takes the job on Wednesday, led the truck-unveiling ceremony and then was immediately surrounded by several hundred journalists.

Responding to a question about being an inspiration to women, Barra said she hopes her engineering credentials make her a role model for young people. "With my technical background - I'm an electrical engineer - and I can motivate young women or young men to pursue a career in science," she said.

Barra, 52, who was appointed by the board on Dec. 10 to replace the outgoing Dan Akerson, avoided a question about whether she's under more pressure at work because she's a woman. "I come to work every day. I work my hardest. We're focused on the goal. We're aligned. That's the way I look at it," she said.

Barra gave 11 carefully scripted answers to reporters' questions before leaving the building, repeating several times that the company is focused on its customers. She wasn't directly asked about her plans to lead the nation's largest automaker, but described her management style as "collaborative."

Barra joined GM at age 18 as a co-op student, working for several months at a time at GM's Pontiac division while studying for her engineering degree at General Motors Institute, a Flint, Michigan, college then owned by the company.

She graduated from GMI, now Kettering University, in 1985, and GM eventually sent her to Stanford University to earn an MBA. When she returned, she rotated through a number of jobs, including executive assistant to then-CEO Jack Smith, a role often given to rising stars. She headed midsize car engineering and managed GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

Just after GM's 2009 bankruptcy, then-CEO Ed Whitacre put her in charge of human resources, a stop that isn't normally along the CEO track. But in Barra's case HR was key. GM had to keep talented people from jumping ship so it had bench strength to recover. Few people left.

In 2011, Akerson plucked Barra from HR to run GM's huge worldwide product development, an operation he says was in chaos at the time.

During her tenure, GM rolled out many new products including the acclaimed Chevrolet Impala big car, and new full-size and small pickup trucks. It also has made progress building multiple vehicles off the same underpinnings to save money. But it still lags behind rival Ford Motor Co. in the number of global cars it builds.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Sports HeadlinesMore>>

  • Ryu, Dodgers end Pirates' home win streak, 5-2

    Ryu, Dodgers end Pirates' home win streak, 5-2

    Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.More >>
    Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.
    More >>
  • AP Source: NFL stadium sites explored in Toronto

    AP Source: NFL stadium sites explored in Toronto

    Thursday, July 24 2014 11:23 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:23:56 GMT
    A person close to the situation says a Buffalo Bills prospective ownership group that includes rocker Jon Bon Jovi has conducted a feasibility study into buying the NFL franchise and building a stadium in Toronto.More >>
    A Buffalo Bills prospective ownership group that includes rocker Jon Bon Jovi has conducted a feasibility study into buying the NFL franchise and building a stadium in Toronto, a person close to the situation said.More >>
  • Cavaliers sign rookie Andrew Wiggins

    Cavaliers sign rookie Andrew Wiggins

    Thursday, July 24 2014 9:54 PM EDT2014-07-25 01:54:27 GMT
    The Cavaliers have signed No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins, a contract that prevents him from being traded for 30 days.More >>
    The Cavaliers have signed No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins, a contract that prevents him from being traded for 30 days.
    More >>
  • More From wfmj.comMore>>

  • 6 hurt when truck hits Dairy Queen near Pittsburgh

    6 hurt when truck hits Dairy Queen near Pittsburgh

    Friday, July 25 2014 1:01 AM EDT2014-07-25 05:01:26 GMT
    PITTSBURGH (AP) - Authorities say six people were injured and a gas line was damaged after a truck crashed into a Dairy Queen in suburban Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the incident occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday in Penn Hills. A witness tells the newspaper that she was able to help an employee get out through a window after a cash register fell onto her. That employee, the manager and four men in the truck were taken to hospitals. The newspaper says firefighters secur...More >>
    PITTSBURGH (AP) - Authorities say six people were injured and a gas line was damaged after a truck crashed into a Dairy Queen in suburban Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the incident occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday in Penn Hills. A witness tells the newspaper that she was able to help an employee get out through a window after a cash register fell onto her. That employee, the manager and four men in the truck were taken to hospitals. The newspaper says firefighters secur...More >>
  • UPDATED

    Ohio State marching band director fired

    Ohio State marching band director fired

    Thursday, July 24 2014 8:49 PM EDT2014-07-25 00:49:54 GMT
    Ohio State University fired the director of its celebrated marching band on Thursday amid allegations he knew about and ignored "serious cultural issues," some involving rituals where students were pressured to march in their underwear or participate in sexually themed stunts.More >>
    Ohio State University fired the director of its celebrated marching band on Thursday amid allegations he knew about and ignored "serious cultural issues," some involving rituals where students were pressured to march in their underwear or participate in sexually themed stunts.More >>
  • Witness: Teen's plane didn't show obvious distress

    Witness: Teen's plane didn't show obvious distress

    Thursday, July 24 2014 7:38 PM EDT2014-07-24 23:38:16 GMT
    The family of an Indiana teenager who crashed in the Pacific Ocean during an around-the-world flight says he knew the risks and had prepared for them.More >>
    A man who saw a plane flown by an Indiana teen who was killed during an around-the-world flight attempt says the aircraft was flying low but didn't show any obvious signs of distress before diving into the ocean off...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms