Guest Blogger: Lisa Seidl, Manager of Marketing Communications
Last month, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) invited me to attend the Detroit Economic Club’s monthly luncheon at the Detroit Marriott. The guest speaker was Mary Barra, CEO General Motors Company. Her topic was Driving Transformation and Economic Growth.
I was quite proud to be in the audience for a couple of reasons: 1) being a female in the manufacturing industry and; 2) working for a Michigan-based manufacturing company. I have not heard many speeches from Mary, other than 5-second snippets on television regarding GM’s recall issues. She is very impressive in the fact that she is so down-to-earth. I came away so energized by her talk, that I wanted to talk more about it!
She explained that her vision for General Motors is to become the global leader in the auto industry; not just ok or second best – The Best! She realizes this will take time, it will not happen overnight and there is still a fair amount of work to do to achieve this. There is no magic wand. It will take dedication and hard work to get through the current recall issues.
Mary highlighted that to achieve these goals, GM’s culture must shift towards problem solving together, being candid with each other and having a tenacity to win. Global strategies must ensue and she has a true passion for the company. One of several current GM innovations is V to X technology – a system where vehicles talk to one another. This will appear in the next-gen Chevy Volt 2015. GM is striving to be the global leader through electrical vehicle technology. They plan to invest $1.8 billion in engineering and electric technology. A new manufacturing facility will be established in Warren, Michigan to house production of the complete electrical drive system.
Mary went on to give us a look into her personal life. After graduating from Kettering University in Michigan, she went on to Stanford in Silicon Valley for her secondary degree. She is passionate for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) programs. She described how the excitement and awareness for students to get involved with STEM begins with junior-middle school children.
When asked if she could give unconventional advice on what it takes to become a female CEO of a Fortune 100 Company, she responded “do what you love, work hard!” Her role models were her parents. Her Dad retired from GM as a diemaker and her mother was a bookkeeper. They both worked hard to give their children a better life. Mary’s favorite car of all the GM vehicles she has driven is the Cadillac CTS, because of its technology, design and performance. She does, however, also love the Camaro.
In summary, I was most impressed with the fact that Mary did not have a magic bullet for success. She attributed hard work, collaboration, and passion for what you do every day to succeed. She truly is the epitome of a Woman in Manufacturing; and I could relate.
About the Author
Lisa is the manager of marketing communications for Seco Tools, LLC. She manages North American activities to encompass advertising, trade shows and machine tool builder events, communications and public relations. She and the MarComm team provide sales and distribution support with product launch introductions and promotional collateral. She also works globally with corporate brand identity to ensure the integrity of the Seco brand internally and externally. In her spare time, she likes to golf and cheer on the Detroit Red Wings hockey team.