Automotive Fleet

FEB 2014

Magazine for the car and truck fleet and leasing industry

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AUTOMOTIVE FLEET I FEBRUARY 2014 42 There's a new boss in town, and women f eet managers are rejoicing about this turning point in automotive history. BY PAUL CLINTON G eneral Motors' appointment of Mary Barra as the f rst female CEO of a global automotive compa- ny in December instantly ignited discussion about the role of women in the male-dominated boardrooms of the auto- motive industry. While high-level female automotive ex- ecutives have been a rare breed, Barra's rise through GM from a summer internship to the top of the C-suite has inspired female f eet executives, who say she's earned her seat at the table. "Most women in f eet are doing the same thing," said Rachel Johnson, f eet specialist for Konecranes. "T ey are earning their place and businesses are f nally realizing women have much to of er. If they are dedicated and excel within the company, there's no rea- son a woman shouldn't be given the same opportunities as men for advancement." Barra started working for GM in1980 as a co-op student. She held various engi- neering and administrative positions, and was eventually named manager of the De- troit/Hamtramck Assembly plant. Barra studied electrical engineering at the General Motors Institute (now Ketter- ing University), where she earned a Bach- elor of Science degree. She attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business on a GM fellowship, and earned a master's in business administration in 1990. In February 2008, she became vice president of global manufacturing en- gineering. Almost 18 months later, GM elevated her to vice president of glob- al human resources. In February 2011, she became executive vice president of global product development, where she worked to trim the number of GM au- tomobile platforms. In August, she add- ed responsibility for global purchasing and supply chain to her responsibilities. On Dec. 10, 2013, Barra was named CEO, replacing Dan Akerson, and joined the GM Board of Directors. Barra stepped into her new role in January, and will work closely with T eodore "Tim" Solso, the for- mer chairman and CEO of Cummins, Inc., who was named GM chairman. Barra's appointment as CEO is "a huge milestone," said Helene Kamon, a former AmeriFleet vice president, member of the AF Fleet Hall of Fame, and a trailblazer herself as the f rst female president of the Automo- tive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA). Kamon f rst worked in the automotive business in 1970 at a time when it was "an old boys club." In 1980, she was named f eet director for Wendy's International. "I am very happy I lived to see this. I'm just delight- ed. It opens a lot of possibilities," she said. Female CEOs remain a rarity among Fortune 500 companies. Only 23 (4.6 per- cent) are now led by a female. For this rea- son, Barra's appointment is "a huge step in women breaking through the glass ceiling," said Donna Bibbo, f eet and employee ser- vices manager at Novo Nordisk. "I think her ascendency will be applaud- ed, but also watched very carefully," Bibbo said. "It is important that she succeed, and I certainly expect that she will, while bring- ing new ideas from the female perspective to the industry." Several female f eet managers credited Barra as a role model for them. "It is inspir- ing to have a female role model in the indus- try that has reached that level of success," said Debbie Struna, Rite Aid's f eet manager. T eresa Belding, director – f eet servic- es for Forest Pharmaceuticals, said she'd like to hear from Barra f rsthand perhaps at an upcoming AFLA conference or at a meeting of AFLA's Women in Fleet Man- agement group. "T is is very exciting," Belding said. "It's very inspiring and encouraging to me as a woman in this industry." Other female f eet managers downplayed Barra's gender role as GM's new CEO. Gail Watson, f eet and parking services man- ager at insurer Nationwide, said it was her last thought when hearing about Barra's appointment. "I'm nofert sure there's a point to draw- ing the gender line," Watson said. "Mary's background speaks for itself." Barra was likely chosen because she is "the right person in the right job at the right time," said Elsie Lucia, Estée Laud- er's f eet services director and a former AFLA president. "Being the f rst female [CEO] in the global car business is a mile- stone, but she is smart and has worked in many areas of the company, which will be to her advantage. I'm sure she will bring a dif erent perspective to the of ce of CEO — not a bad thing." AF LAUD GENERAL MOTORS' NEW CEO HIRE Women of Fleet In December 2013, Mary Barra was named the f rst female CEO of a global automotive company. A F 0 2 1 4 w o m e n . i n d d 4 2 AF0214women.indd 42 1 / 2 4 / 1 4 6 : 2 7 A M 1/24/14 6:27 AM

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