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These are the 6 women leading Big Auto into a highly competitive and uncertain future (GM, F, FCAU)

Published by Business Insider on Sun, 10 Jan 2021

<p><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5acf6bcf146e711a008b4680/mary barra.jpg" border="0" alt="mary barra gm" data-mce-source="Bill Pugliano/Getty Images"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>It often thought that the Detroit auto industry is a man's world, but that actually isn't true.</p><p>Sure, it's been mostly men running the Big Three automakersGeneral Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler Automobilesand serving in high-powered executive roles. But from the CEO's office down through the executive ranks, many women have risen to hold influential roles.</p><p>General Motors named Mary Barra is CEO in 2014, making her the first woman to hold the job at the largest car company in the US by annual sales. Until recently, GM had two women at the top<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/dhivya-suryadevara-leaving-general-motors-gm-stripe-all-female-team-2020-8">Dhivya Suryadevara was CFO until she left in August 2020 to join finance startup Stripe</a>.</p><p>Barra continues to have several high-powered women on her team. And at crosstown rival Ford, a female descendant of founder Henry Ford holds an important executive position, joined by several other women with major responsibilities.&nbsp;</p><p>Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has more men at the top than its Big Three competitors, but Marissa Hunter looks after the lucrative and ultra-competitive US market and steers the company's most important brands.</p><p>Here's a rundown of the most powerful women in the US auto industry:</p><p><strong>FOLLOW US:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/BusinessInsider.Cars/" >On Facebook for more car and transportation content!</a></strong></p><h3>Mary Barra, CEO, GM</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/551c1ca8eab8eae440d4441b-400-300/mary-barra-ceo-gm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In her years as General Motors' CEO, Mary Barra has seen plenty of things: a massive strike, a huge recall, a pandemic, a shift toward an electric future, tussles with President Donald Trump, and more. It's been a period not only of challenges at the automaker but of an industry-wide shift to electric and autonomous vehicles.</p><p>As soon as Barra became CEO &mdash; the first woman to lead a major car company &mdash; GM was embroiled in a massive recall caused by a single, innocuous yet ubiquitous part: an ignition switch whose malfunction led to 124 deaths and 275 injuries and cost the company more than $2 billion.&nbsp;</p><p>The problems didn't let up even as Barra consolidated her team and established her leadership style. Trump's election threw GM for a loop, as it contended with potential border taxes on vehicles and parts it produced in Mexico. Later, GM and Trump tangled over the closure of a factory in Ohio.</p><p>Then in late 2019, as the United Auto Workers undertook a new contract with the Detroit Big Three, the embattled union decided to strike GM, sending almost 50,000 workers to the picket lines for more than a month &mdash; the longest&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/10/25/gm-strike-is-nearly-over-workers-are-voting-contract/" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="20" data-uri="cf9b71f6ec61fa7e6a8c911d56b026ec">strike at GM</a>&nbsp;in 50 years.</p><p>One might have thought that GM would get a breather, but in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the factory to idle all Chinese, US, and European production. GM responded deftly, shifting some manufacturing to making ventilators, but again tangled with Trump, who used the Defense Production Act to compel GM to make more.</p><p>Through all this chaos, Barra had to concentrate on her overarching strategies: optimizing GM to create a positive return on invested capital; reversing a pre-bankruptcy trend of wasting money in the interest of maintaining scale and market share; and transforming GM into an electric carmaker.</p><p>"We are disrupting ourselves, we're not trying to preserve a model of yesterday," she told Insider in a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/general-motors-ceo-mary-barra-were-going-to-disrupt-ourselves-we-are-disrupting-ourselves-were-not-trying-to-preserve-a-model-of-yesterday-2015-10" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="20" data-uri="106e4cab4a67fcaae9d61d8a22fb3734">2015 interview</a>.</p><p>The electrified future kicked off in earnest at the beginning of 2020 when GM unveiled its Ultium battery technology, facilitated by a deal with LG Chem to build a battery factory in the Midwest. GM's ambitions also have big money behind them: the carmaker will spend $27 billion to launch 30 electric vehicles by 2025.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Kim Brycz, Senior Vice-President, Global Human Resources, GM</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5feb8058b7ab82001943e754-400-300/kim-brycz-senior-vice-president-global-human-resources-gm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As GM manages a transition from being one of the world's largest purveyors of gas-powered mobility to becoming an electrified automaker, Brycz needs to support the hundreds of thousands of employees the company currently has and prepare it to hire the talent that it will require in the decades ahead.</p><p>Brycz joined GM in 1983 working for Cadillac, and prior to taking a job that CEO Mary Barra once held heading up global HR, she supervised the $80 billion that GM spends each year to develop competitive new products and maintain existing ones.</p><p>"Kim brings to the job a strong set of leadership and organizational skills that will help lead our ongoing efforts to transform the company through our people and culture," Barra&nbsp;<a href="https://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/home.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2018/mar/0312-brycz.html" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="40" data-uri="a9b9af674104824e5c1e13cc2baf022e">said</a>&nbsp;when Brycz was promoted in 2018. "Kim exemplifies the leadership behaviors that are critical to the collective success of the company."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Deborah Wahl, Global Chief Marketing Officer, GM</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/580e38568d83b4b3028b65ee-400-300/deborah-wahl-global-chief-marketing-officer-gm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Wahl had been in charge of marketing for Cadillac when in 2019 GM tapped her to become the carmaker's Global Chief Marketing Officer, a role that it hadn't filled under CEO Mary Barra's tenure.</p><p>Wahl came to GM from McDonald's in 2018, but prior to her stint under the golden arches, she'd worked for other big carmakers, including Chrysler and Toyota.</p><p>Insider had the opportunity to speak with Wahl in Detroit at the beginning of 2020 when GM unveiled its Ultium battery technology. She was an enthusiastic proponent of the all-electric platform, which she and her team had worked on naming.&nbsp;</p><p>"There are moments in history when everything changes," Wahl said when GM more recently unveiled a campaign to promote its electric technologies and showcased a new corporate logo.</p><p>"We believe such a point is upon us for the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Unlike ever before, we have the solutions, capability, technology, and scale to put everyone in an EV. Our new brand identity and campaign are designed to reflect this."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Elena Ford, Chief Customer Experience Officer, Ford</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5ff897b4bde805001980be85-400-300/elena-ford-chief-customer-experience-officer-ford.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The great-great-granddaughter of Henry Ford has found herself working for the daily business, and her role is hardly ceremonial. She oversees what might be the most important responsibility the 117-year-old automaker has: ensuring that its customers are respected and listened to, and that owning one Ford vehicle makes them want to own more.</p><p>"We know that an exceptional experience is what today's customers want and expect and we are focused on understanding those expectations so deeply and so continuously that our customers feel that we care at each and every touchpoint, regardless of where they meet us," she said in a statement.</p><p>Ford joined the company in 1995 and has served in a range of roles. She also participates in extensive charity and foundation activities.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Suzy Deering, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Ford</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5fbd579b32f2170011f70f91-400-300/suzy-deering-global-chief-marketing-officer-ford.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ford named Deering, a veteran of eBay and Verizon, as its new top marketer in November 2020. She took the top job in January of 2021.</p><p>Automakers spend billions on marketing their vehicles and services, so Deering's role is critical. But Ford is also rebranding itself as a technology and mobility provider, and the 117-year-old company looked to the new economy when it chose Deering as CMO.</p><p>"Technology will be a powerful part of Ford's transformation and how we enhance and release the huge value of our iconic brands," she said in a statement when her hire was announced.</p><p>"My team will be involved from end-to-end on behalf of customers &mdash; better connecting with them, using data to foresee and deliver what they need, and earning and keeping their trust."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Joy Falotico, President, Lincoln</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5bbe50c992b36944b70b5d34-400-300/joy-falotico-president-lincoln.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Until November 2020, Falotico was heading up Lincoln and serving as Ford's Chief Marketing Officer &mdash; following in the footsteps of Kumar Galhotra, who had also run the luxury brand while filling the CMO's role.</p><p>Falotico worked at Ford's credit arm from 1989 until she became a group vice-president in 2016 and took over Lincoln while the brand was in the process of a reinvention.&nbsp;</p><p>With Ford hiring Suzy Deering as its new CMO, Falotico is free to take Lincoln to the next level, expanding its manufacturing and sales operations in China while launching new SUVs in the US. She has to take on crosstown rival Cadillac, as well as worry about Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Lexus, Acura, Infiniti, and Jaguar Land Rover.</p><p>China, in particular, has been on her mind for a while. "China is going to be the largest market, for certain," she told Insider in 2018.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Lynn Antipas Tyson, Executive Director, Investor Relations, Ford</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5fbd592132f2170011f70fa0-400-300/lynn-antipas-tyson-executive-director-investor-relations-ford.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tyson's 25-year career has showcased her ability to represent large companies to the investment community and other critical constituencies. Before Ford, she worked for Dell and PepsiCo.</p><p>The City College of New York grad also holds an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business.</p><p>Her challenge at Ford is significant, as the carmaker's stock has failed to impress Wall Street, lagging the broader markets since the financial crisis and underperforming its peers in the auto industry. Ford has also seen its investment-grade credit rating cut, raising its borrowing costs.</p><p>"Lynn brings a wealth of investor relations and communications experience at companies that were facing profound change," Bob Shanks, then Ford's CFO, said in 2017 when Tyson joined Ford.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Marissa Hunter, Head of Marketing, FCA North America</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5ff899b3d184b30018aadccf-400-300/marissa-hunter-head-of-marketing-fca-north-america.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hunter came to FCA, then a newly formed corporate entity after Chrysler's takeover by Fiat, in 2009. The former BBDO advertising executive was immediately tasked with selling one of the automaker's most important vehicles: the RAM pickup truck.</p><p>A series of assignments, ascending in influence, followed, and in 2019 FCA named her head of marketing for North America, the company's most profitable region. She supervises all brands sold in the US and Canada.</p><p>FCA is in the process of merging with France's PSA Group. And although it remains to be seen how the new corporation, dubbed "Stellantis," will manage the North American business, current FCA CEO Mike Manley will likely take over and Hunter's responsibilities will become ever more vital to the financial health of the US-Italian-French giant, the world's fourth-largest automaker.</p></p><br/><br/>
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