Whitman praises "pioneering" selection of Mary Barra as General Motors CEO

December 10, 2013

In an interview with Business Insider, Marina v.N. Whitman explains why choosing Mary Barra as the first female chief executive of a major auto company was a brilliant move by General Motors. Whitman was vice president and group executive of Public Affairs for GM in the 1980s, at that time the highest-ranking female in the traditionally male-dominated industry. She notes that the choice of Barra shows that GM "is pioneering again" and gives women "a goal to strive for."

In the interview, Whitman emphasizes that Barra's selection is notable beyond gender because she is the ultimate GM insider and is breaking the cycle of bringing in outsiders to take charge. Barra started at the company inspecting fender panels at the age of 18 and is only the second engineer to get the top job.

Whitman was also quoted in a New York Times article on Barra's selection. She explains that the choice is a positive step for a company and industry that can be behind the times, stating, "one of my greatest frustrations at GM was we were never able to persuade top management that the world was changing rapidly and they needed to change to keep up with it."