December 11, 2013

Barra to Lead GM


Maggie: This week, General Motors announced yet another CEO. The country’s largest automaker has had a rough couple of years. Keith Kocinski has more on the company’s newest leader and on how she could make a difference.

Keith: There is a new head of General Motors. And for the first time, the person behind the wheel is a woman.

Mary Barra: Winning – whether it’s quality, whether it’s great products, whether it’s financial results – if we are going to do it, we need to do it well.

Keith: Fifty-one-year-old Mary Barra has GM in her blood. Her father spent 39 years at the company. She earned her engineering degree at the General Motors Institute and has worked for the automaker since 1980.

Jean Jennings: She’s smart as a whip. She’s been at it in every single important area. And these last couple of years, she’s really proved it. Really proved what she can do.

Keith: But among big businesses, only 8% of top earning executives are women, according to a study out this week by Catalyst, an advocacy group for women in business. And more than a quarter of those companies had no female executive officers at all as of June this year, including Apple, Citigroup and Exxon Mobil.

Barra: This is truly the next chapter in General Motors’ recovery and turnaround history. And I’m very honored to be part of it.

Keith: Here is some background on what she is talking about. The American auto industry was headed for a disastrous crash in 2009. General Motors filed for bankruptcy. Because GM and other automakers support so many jobs, the government made a controversial decision to take over GM in order to keep it in business. The government ended up owning 61% of the company.

President Obama: One of the first decisions that I made as president was to save the U.S. auto industry from collapse.

Keith: But this week, the Treasury Department announced it had sold back all of its shares of GM. So the company no longer has the nickname ‘Government Motors’. In the end, taxpayers lost about $10 billion on the deal. But, some experts say if the government hadn’t bailed out GM, it would have been even worse.

A study by the Center for Automotive Research found if GM had failed, it would have cost 1.9 million jobs and more than $39 billion in tax revenue.

Maggie, back to you.


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