GM’s Mary Barra and “Real” Asset Management

Mary Barra may have the reputation of being the first female Chief Executive of a Big 8 automaker company but with the crisis that General Motors is in – would it be enough to just tell people that they are going to bounce back starting this year?

Mary Barra, GM CEO

Mary Barra, GM CEO

See. Before Barra became GM’s CEO, she was the company’s EVP of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain – which makes her knowledgeable of the car giant’s tracks and vision. Then again, being an insider also makes her some kind of an accomplice to GM’s failings. After all, with “product” in your title, that ignition switch then is you.

And so just 3 months into her position as GM’s chief, she was called to Congress to answer for the car maker’s ignition switch issue. Instant test of leadership. Yet even before Barra became chief (especially as an insider), she should have been aware of that – therefore, prepared.

Anyway, she has already apologized, so let’s hear Mary Barra at a GM testing facility in Michigan.

“Our strategic plan is a pathway to earn customers for life and create significant shareholder value in the process. Every chance to connect with a customer is an opportunity to build a stronger relationship.”

Aren’t those what every business want? Customers for life. Shareholder value. Still, Barra forgot one thing – satisfied employees.

Look. How could General Motors’ new products come up with 27 percent of global sales (much more build on it) if she only satisfies, say, 20 percent of her people? Treatment of employees can’t be categorized on an 80-20 Pareto’s Principle. Just as everyone has to work as a team – every part of a car has to do its thing. mary barra

Also. While moving its Cadillac brand to New York City to raise its profile in the luxury car market is good as you got to be where the action is – you don’t just put in your best and most seasoned people out there – or else, you would drain your other bases, and possibly your home-base as well.

In all, these are just about “real” asset management – a keystone in recovering before really failing, and a big part in winning battles. Mary Barra should get this, otherwise, what’s the use of being Forbes’ 62nd most powerful in the world?

What’s your take?