General Motors appoints Maya Barra as the new CEO of the American auto major replacing Dan Akerson from the post. 65 year old, Dan Akersan, preponed his retirement plans by several months after his wife, Karin was diagnosed with cancer. "I need to spend all my time and energy in fighting this disease with my wife," said Akerson.
Now, there will be separate positions of chairman and CEO in the company. Maya Barra will get a board seat and director Theodore Solso will follow Akerson as chairman. Previously, Barra held the seat of VP, Global Product Development and Solso, been a board member of the company since June 2012.
51 years old, Maya Barra is the first engineer to run GM since CEO Bob Stempel left in 1992. After that, Rick Wagoner and Fritz Henderson lead the company and were finance executives followed by Ed Whitacre and Dan Akerson from the telecommunications and finance departments.
The choice of Barra was unanimous, Akerson said, because of her breadth of experience, management and people skills and her understanding of GM's operations. The GM board considered only internal candidates. "This is an executive who has a vision of where she wants to take the organization," he said, adding that Barra took over product development when it was in chaos not long after GM emerged from bankruptcy protection.
Coming from an electrical engineering background, Barra also holds a master's degree in business administration from Stanford University. She joined General Motors at the age of 18 and serving the auto major till date.
“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,” said Barra. “I am honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”