General Motors CEO Mary Barra takes on chairman role

General Motors CEO Mary Barra is taking on the added role of chairman at the U.S.'s largest automaker.

The company's directors Monday unanimously elected her to lead the board, effective immediately.

See Full Article

She replaces former Cummins Inc. Chairman and CEO Theodore Solso as GM's chairman. He will stay on as the board's lead independent director, the company said Monday in a statement.

Barra, 54, took over as CEO in January of 2014, becoming the first woman to lead a major global automaker. Her appointment came shortly before GM became embroiled in a scandal over faulty small-car ignition switches. But she led GM through the crisis and a related series of embarrassing safety recalls.

Barra replaced Dan Akerson, a former telecommunications and private equity executive, who also held the chairman and CEO roles before leaving GM.

GM's leadership consolidation runs counter to the trend in corporate governance, according to the proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services. About half of the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index have separated their chairman and CEO roles. That's up from 30 per cent in 2005.

Corporate governance experts often recommend separation of the chairman and CEO roles to keep the board more independent. But Solso said in a statement that the board determined that it's best to combine the chairman and CEO roles again "at a time of unprecedented industry change."

He said that under Barra's leadership, the company consistently has delivered its earnings targets and has led in breakthrough vehicles and technologies. Having Barra in the dual role, he said will "drive the most efficient execution of our plan and vision for the future."

However, Charles Elson sees the consolidation as "a real step backwards" for GM.

The director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware said boards have been separating the chairman and CEO roles because they are now viewed more as monitors of a company, not advisers.

"The board is there to oversee the CEO, and the person who is chairing the board shouldn't be the person overseen by the board," he said. "It's a conflict."

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.

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.

------

This story has been corrected to show the name of Solso's former company is Cummins Inc., not Cummins Diesel.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • San Francisco brewery ordered to stop making beer with CBD

    Economic CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- U.S. officials have ordered a San Francisco brewery to stop producing beer containing cannabidiol, the hemp-derived extract known as CBD. The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is allowing Black Hammer Brewing to sell the rest of the CBD beer it already brewed, including one called Toke Back Mountain. Source
  • Canadian auto sector observers doubt U.S. will carry through on tariff threat

    Economic CTV News
    Canadian auto industry observers are reacting with shock and disbelief to news that U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered an investigation that could result in tariffs of up to 25 per cent on auto sector imports into the United States. Source
  • Trudeau says Trump's threat of auto tariffs would hit U.S. just as hard

    Economic CTV News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he plans to tell U.S. President Donald Trump that his threat to slap tariffs of up to 25 per cent on vehicle imports would have an "incredibly negative effect" on the American economy. Source
  • Disputed Keystone XL pipeline backed by Trump is focus of court hearing

    Economic CBC News
    Trump administration attorneys were due in a Montana courtroom Thursday to defend the disputed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline against environmental groups and Native American groups that want to derail the project. The 1,800-kilometre line proposed by TransCanada Corporation was rejected in 2015 by former President Barack Obama because of its potential to exacerbate climate change. Source
  • Trump administration defends Keystone XL pipeline in court

    Economic CBC News
    Trump administration attorneys were due in a Montana courtroom Thursday to defend the disputed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline against environmental groups and Native American groups that want to derail the project. The 1,800-kilometre line proposed by TransCanada Corporation was rejected in 2015 by former President Barack Obama because of its potential to exacerbate climate change. Source
  • Facebook won't pay compensation for Cambridge Analytica case

    Economic CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- Facebook says it will not compensate users in the scandal over the misuse of their personal data by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. The company made the statement Thursday in a list of written replies to questions by European Union lawmakers. Source
  • Canada still wants to work with China despite blocked Aecon takeover: Bains

    Economic CBC News
    Canada is still open to working with China in the future, despite killing the massive takeover of Canadian construction company Aecon Group Inc. by Chinese interests, says Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains. "I'm confident that we'll continue to work together. Source
  • McDonald's not ready to let go of plastic straws

    Economic CBC News
    McDonald's isn't ready to stop offering plastic straws, despite environmental concerns. A shareholder proposal to pressure the world's biggest hamburger chain on the matter was voted down at the company's annual meeting Thursday. The proposal by activist group SumOfUs asked for a report about the "business risks" of using plastic straws at the chain's 37,000 locations globally. Source
  • McDonald's not ready to let go of plastic straws in U.S.

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- McDonald's isn't ready to stop offering plastic straws, despite environmental concerns. A shareholder proposal to pressure the world's biggest hamburger chain on the matter was voted down at the company's annual meeting Thursday. Source
  • Trump administration explores tariffs on autos, auto parts

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration launched an investigation into whether tariffs are needed on the imports of automobiles into the United States, moving swiftly as talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled. Source