While it’s not an accolade that Barra would actually want, the fact that GM’s CEO withstood all the harsh winds of the automaker’s worst crisis since the 2009 bankruptcy should be properly recognized.
And Fortune magazine did just that, naming the first woman that became chief executive of a global automaker, Mary Barra, the crisis manager of the year. General Motors back in February acknowledged it overlook a fatal safety defect for at least a decade and recalled 2.6 million cars equipped with deadly ignition switches. So far the carmaker has already repaired 60% of the affected units – but the safety crisis has already taken its toll, being linked to 42 deaths, seven crippling injuries and 51 less severe injuries. Additionally, the No. 1 US automaker has recalled a record amount of cars this year: in excess of 30 million globally and more than 26 million in the US alone, incurring costs of around $2.7 billion in the process.
Barra has been recognized for taking the appropriate steps during the crisis, showing in the process how an effective leader should proceed. She asked for an independent analysis of the mishaps that led to the recall, she hired an independent attorney – Kenneth Feinberg – a well respected lawyer and with experience in running disaster compensation funds to establish and independent program for the victims’ and families.