Mary Barra Named Chairman of General Motors' Board of Directors
The General Motors board of directors has announced that it is naming its Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra as the company’s chairman. The board made this decision unanimously, reflecting the board’s confidence in her strong leadership and her ability to endure adversity through her two years as CEO. Barra, 54, will be succeeding Theodore “Ted” Solso, who was the previous chairman. Solso is the former CEO of Cummins Engine Inc., but he will still have a role with GM as the company’s lead independent director. RELATED: Mary Barra Oders an All Black Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The appointment is a vote of confidence, but it is also a return to the way the office was structured before Barra’s tenure. In January of 2014, when former CEO and chairman Dan Akerson was replaced by Barra, the office was split into separate roles. Some investors prefer the roles as separate, as studies have shown that the combination of the CEO and chairman roles result in decisions that are less investor-friendly. As such, nearly half of S&P 500 companies now have the chairman and CEO roles as two separate individuals.
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It is surprising to consider that Barra has only been CEO for two years, but they have been a turbulent two years, which makes it seem like her tenure has been longer. Soon after she took the role, GM became embroiled in a safety scandal involving fault ignition switches that resulted in numerous deaths. Not long after, investors sent the CEO a list of demands, including an overhaul of the culture in management at General Motors. It was a necessary change, but one that helps position Barra as the portrait of change at the company, and the board has responded with her new appointment.
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