DETROIT — The Automotive News “100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry” gala was held at the Max Fisher Music Center on Monday evening. These women have survived the recession of 2008-09 and have empowered and created job opportunities for lots of women in the automotive industry. They have become CEO’s, Vice Presidents and leaders in their field. Times have certainly changed and today we celebrate their accomplishments and their success. During their down time, some of these women are hockey moms, athletes, reality-show fans and “moms.” Two of these 100 strong women are cancer survivors.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra sat down with K.C. Crain, Group Publisher, Automotive News, for a conversation on her accomplishments. Barra graduated with an MBA from Stanford University receiving a GM Fellowship in 1988. “I love manufacturing. I heard of the fellowship program,” says Barra. Did you have a mentor? Barra notes “I have many mentors, I’m afraid to name names due to I will forget someone.” Did they have a ten-page dress code guideline? “It was lengthy,” she says. Tell us about the culture of GM? “We’ve been on a journey for a long time. We will only continue to grow. There is not an industry that is not changed by technology. I think we’ve made changes along the way. I am so proud of our team. I’m impatient. If it takes a little longer, I have no patience for that,” says Barra.
Tell us about the investment in Warren? “We are making a huge investment in Warren. We are hiring a lot of people from Silicon Valley. Millennials are very tech savvy. They are driving a lot of change, so I challenge them to go faster,” she says. Can GM create autonomous cars? “Yes, I definitely think we are working hard to accomplish that.” Do you think we can attract enough talent here? “Oh definitely, we have opportunities around the globe.” Anything else should be done to encourage women in the industry? “Tell women what a wonderful, exciting and diverse a career is in the auto industry,” says Barra.
The presentation of the awards to all 100 women lasted about two hours. Keith Crain, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Automotive News, welcomed everyone and told a story about hiring an intern to his company. He was referring to Mary Beth Vander Schaaf, Managing Editor of Automotive News. Jason Stein, Publisher and Editor of Automotive News, noted that this is the fourth time in the past 15 years we are honoring 100 women in the automotive industry. This year’s honorees came from 54 companies, from manufacturers to engineers, dealer principals to designers. He thanked the 20 supporting sponsors.
Mary Beth Vander Schaaf added: “Isn’t it great to take the time to celebrate yourself? These leading women are on our list because of their accomplishments at work. I am proud to be the leader of this project.”
Janet Foutty, Federal Practice National Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, says “Events like this is so important. It demonstrates Deloitte focuses on women. We are not intent to stop there. We are grounded to commitment of women.”
For more information about the “100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry” gala, visit www.autonews.com.