When she was appointed Chairwoman and Chief Executive of General Motors in 2014, Mary Barra became the first ever female to head an automobile manufacturer.

Born in Detroit in 1961, both Mary’s parents are of Finnish descent. Her father Ray worked at the Pontiac car factory in Detroit for 40 years.

A graduate of the local high school, Mary also started working in the automobile industry at 18, checking fender panels and inspecting hoods to pay for her college tuition.

With a career that has spanned decades with GM, Mary has had many roles; from plant manager at Detroit’s Hamtramck Assembly to vice president of global manufacturing, vice president of global human resources and senior vice president of global product development.

Her vision, business acumen, engineering skills, leadership and passion for automobiles, as well as her strong support for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education has won her recognition across the globe.

In April 2014, she was featured on the cover of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2017, she was elected to the board of Disney and is a member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees.

“My first job at General Motors was as a quality inspector on the assembly line. I was checking fits between hoods and fenders. I had a little scale and clipboard. At one point, I was probably examining 60 jobs an hour during an eight-hour shift. A job like that teaches you to value all the people who do a job like that.”