General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson says a woman will eventually run one of the three largest U.S.-based automakers, but stops short of specifying when.
“The Detroit Three are all run by non-car guys,” Akerson said Wednesday at a Detroit conference hosted by Inforum, a women’s leadership advocacy group. “Someday, there will be a Detroit Three that’s run by a car gal. I actually believe that.”
GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC have never had a female CEO. Akerson, Ford’s Alan Mulally and Chrysler’s Sergio Marchionne all have engineering or financial backgrounds. Mary Barra, a veteran of GM and the automaker’s first female chief product officer, is considered a potential successor to Akerson.
After a $50 billion U.S. government bailout in 2009, GM has earned about $22 billion over the past three years, and is drawing praise from longtime critics, including Consumer Reports, for making some of its best cars ever. That’s making it easier for the largest U.S. automaker to hire talented executives, including women, Akerson said.
“If I were a young woman, 20 years ago, I don’t know if I’d have come to work here,” he said.
Barra, 51, was promoted to head of product development in early 2011, less than six months after Akerson, 64, became CEO. She is responsible for the design and quality of all GM cars and trucks.
“There are an unbelievable number of talented women in automotive, certainly at General Motors,” Akerson said, while declining to predict the timing of a Detroit Three company's naming a woman CEO. “It’s inevitable; it’s going to come to pass.”
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