Mary Barra, the new CEO of General Motors, famously told GM engineers that there could be no excuses. "No more crappy cars," she said bluntly. Barra, 52, most recently was GM's highly regarded chief of product development. Now, the engineering manager and company veteran of 30-plus years needs to keep the entire multinational corporation on its game: "pushing GM's middle management and old guard to think and act differently," writes CNBC. Her predecessor Dan Akerson, who had predicted that a "car gal" would someday run one of Detroit's Big Three automakers, calls her "one of the most gifted executives I've met in my career." But Barra, a Stanford MBA who started at GM at age 18, knows it's fundamentally about making, and selling, great cars. Sure, she's pleased that her appointment as the first woman to run a major car company may drive interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Still, as she told the Detroit Free Press: "My gender doesn't really factor into my thinking when I come into the room." "There is no right turn or left turn we're going to be making," Barra says. "We want to accelerate."
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