DETROIT (WWJ) – General Motors incoming CEO Mary Barra stressed collaboration and downplayed her gender in her first major public appearance.
“I’m honored to stand here tonight and humbly lead this team, the General Motors global team,” said Barra, at an event unveiling the 2015 GMC Canyon. “It’s a team I’m very proud to be a part of, team of men and women doing unbelievably great work.”
Barra shared the stage with Mark Reuss, the outgoing GM North America president who will take Barra’s position as head of global product development. Also in the audience, Alan Batey, who will take succeed Reuss in the top North America job, and current CFO Dan Ammann, who will become General Motors President.
The new jobs become effective this Thursday, and—speaking to reporters after here appearance—Barra stressed that it will be a team leading General Motors.
“It’s definitely collaborative,” she said. “We have a great team—Mark Reuss, Dan Ammann, the whole leadership team, they’re very strong. It’s definitely collaborative.”
Barra, surrounded by dozens of reporters and photographers, deflected most questions about her role as the first woman to lead a major carmaker, and whether that would be an inspiration to young women.
“With my technical background—I’m an electrical engineer—if I can motivate young women, or young men to pursue a career in science…that would be a huge win.”
But Michigan Senator Debbie Stabanow says she’s “absolutely thrilled” to see a woman in the top job at General Motors.
“This is really a wonderful step, having the head of an iconic American auto company, lead by a woman. I expect great things from her.”
Barra, however, said her goal will be to build on the progress that General Motors has already made.
“We’re going to continue with the strong momentum we have. We’re going to stay focused on the customers. We’re going to stay focused on cars, trucks and crossovers, making sure we design build and sell the world’s best vehicles.”
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