General Motors named its first female chief executive on Tuesday–one day after the U.S. Treasury announced it sold the last of its remaining GM shares.
Mary Barra will take over as CEO on Jan. 15 and join the company’s board of directors. Barra is currently the executive vice president of GM’s global product development, purchasing and supply chain, and she has more than three decades of experience under her belt at the car manufacturer–from working as an engineer to serving as the first female chief product officer. Her father was also a GM employee for 30 years.
“With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today’s GM,” Barra said in a company press release. “I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”
Karl Brauer, senior analyst of Kelley Blue Book, praised Barra’s credentials. “As someone who started with the company as an intern in 1980, she has truly climbed the corporate ladder through dedication and hard work,” Brauer said in a statement.
Barra also received high praise from the nation’s capital. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted Tuesday, “Congrats to Marry Barra, a leader who will revolutionize @GM as the American auto company’s first woman CEO! #womensucceed”
The appointment comes amid the retirement announcement of current CEO Dan Akerson, who is leaving GM several months earlier than planned, due to his wife’s recent cancer diagnosis.
Barra steps into her new role at a difficult time. The auto company continues to struggle after a $50 billion government bailout that resulted in a net loss for the Treasury. Though GM’s retail sales have surged by 19% over the last month, the government bailout cost taxpayers $10.5 billion.