General Motors put front and center during the congressional testimony this week its new CEO, the first female in the industry – but is a 32 years career inside the company the best way to show changes are made?
Barra has achieved a milestone by being the first woman that runs a major automaker, but her career of 32 years at the same company doesn’t hint that changes could be easy – as corporate managers often struggle to change a company’s culture and business structure.
“I am very disappointed, really as a woman to woman, because the culture you’re representing here today is the culture of the status quo,” said Senator Barbara Boxer.
“It’s kind of hard to have grown up in a company and suddenly say, ‘Now that I’m in charge, I’m going to change things,’” said Elaine Eisenman, dean of executive and enterprise education at a US College. “There’s some credibility challenges she has to overcome.”
After all, Ford only changed after Boeing man Alan Mulally. In truth, GM has changed since emerging from bankruptcy – it has shun the image of bad designed and built cars – won the best sedan moniker from the coveted Consumer Reports for the Chevrolet Impala, a first for a US built car in the last 20 years. Also, the company had a record North American profit and its shares have been up 27% in the last year.