Ivey Business Journal
When appointed chief executive in 2014, Mary Barra was tasked with completing the company’s post-bankruptcy recovery while shifting GM’s strategic gears. Shortly after, GM’s restructuring was threatened by a defective ignition switch scandal linked to over 100 deaths. In this Ivey Business Journal interview, topics include the automobile industry’s new trend towards software validation (with an emphasis on constant upgrades and minimum viable products), versus the old approach of mechanical validation (with an emphasis on heavy retesting and seeking initial perfection). Barra has been surprised by autonomous driving, and says that due to emerging technologies, workers of all education levels must be prepared to change careers multiple times. When GM faces a crisis, she assembles a team guided by three principles: doing the right thing for customers, being honest and transparent, and doing everything possible to ensure the issue never recurs. Barra has seen significant positive movement in terms of corporate responsibility versus when she attended business school in the late 1980s, and sees an opportunity for business scholars to study the importance of long-term perspectives over short-term results.
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