Mary Barra, who will officially become General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)’s CEO this Wednesday, and in so doing will be the first woman to lead a major automaker, is drawing fans and the media as though she were Justin Beiber or Lindsey Lohan.
Entourage and paparazzi
However, unlike those two, she’s finding herself chased down by the media for her imminent role as a high-powered auto executive rather than for being an an annoying, effeminate Canadian or a drug-addle lunatic with a nice smile.
Earlier today when General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) swept the car and truck of the year awards at the Detroit auto show, Barra was mobbed by over 100 reporters and photographers. Thankfully for Barra, she was ready with two beefy bodyguards and a number of public relations handlers to keep the “paparazzi” at bay.
As Barra made her way to the Cadillac exhibit for a television interview, a Keystone Cops moment unfolded with one cameraman tripping over a couch and another running square into a post knocking himself to the ground.
When former CEO Rick Wagoner was driving General Motors to bankruptcy in 2009, he certainly drew a crowd but for all the wrong reasons. The potential for General Motors to fold certainly begged questions from the media and he was dogged by a throng of reporters. The interest in Barra couldn’t be more different outside of the fact that they both hold the title of General Motors’ CEO, or will on Wednesday.
“You guys have rocketed her to superstar status overnight,” incoming General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) North America president Alan Batey told reporters at the show.
While it’s been said that “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” I expect that would be a tough sell to Rick Wagoner, nearly 250,000 employees worldwide and the city of Detroit when General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)’s was looking at bankruptcy. Barra on the other hand, is enjoying the notoriety and in no small way, she is bringing attention to a number of GM vehicles.
General Motors CEO Barra’s plans?
Despite chasing Barra around, reporters aren’t getting much out of her when they catch up to her. There are at least a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, Akerson enjoyed yanking on the chains of reporters and became somewhat famous for speaking spontaneously and bluntly about both the company and its competitors, something that Barra may never do. Additionally, she won’t officially be the CEO of General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) until Wednesday and that may account for her guarded answers.
Barra hasn’t spoke of the changes she wishes to make yet, rather she has continually repeated that she wishes to continue with the positives begun by Akerson including the streamlining of management and the acceleration of product development.
Barra considers herself a collaborative manager and hopes she will inspire more girls and women to look to engineering as a career. Barra studied electrical engineering herself, and at 52 years of age she has spent well over half her life at General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) in the last 33 years of service to the company.