General Motors has announced that its current CEO, Dan Akerson, will retire on January 15, 2014. Mary Barra, the current executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, will succeed him.
Barra is highly regarded in the industry, and will also join the GM board. She becomes the first female CEO of a carmaker as a result.
Dan Akerson is 65 and planned to retire later in 2014. However, a statement from GM confirmed that he had made the decision to bring this date forward as his wife has been recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.
Barra, 51, has been an employee of GM since 1980, where she joined as a student at the Pontiac division. She has worked her way up the ranks, and held the post of head of Global Human Resources, before her current role.
She is credited with helping lead GM’s turnaround through the recent recession, and a statement says she has been a key player in “revitalizing GM’s product development process resulting in the launch of critically acclaimed new products while delivering record product quality ratings and higher customer satisfaction.”
On her appointment, she said: “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.”
“I’m honoured to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”
However, before leaving GM, Akerson has decided to call time on car production in Australia by the end of 2017. GM cites the strength of the Aussie dollar, high cost of production and small local market as reasons for the decision.
As a result, approximately 2,900 manufacturing jobs will go, although GM will retain a global design studio in Australia. It will still sell Holden in Australia beyond 2017, although these will be imported from other markets.