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Mary Teresa Barra (Mäkelä)

Birthplace: Royal Oak, Oakland County, Michigan, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Ray Makela and Eva Mäkelä
Wife of Private
Mother of Private and Private

Occupation: Businessperson
Managed by: Alex Bickle
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Mary Barra

Mary Teresa Barra (née Makela, born December 24, 1961) is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the General Motors Company. She has held the CEO position since January 15, 2014, and she is the first female CEO of a major global automaker. On December 10, 2013, GM named her to succeed Dan Akerson as Chief Executive Officer, and prior to that, Barra served as the Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain at General Motors.

In April 2014, Barra was featured on the cover of Time's "100 Most Influential People in the World."

Early life and education

She was born Mary Teresa Makela. Her father worked as a die maker at Pontiac for 39 years. She studied electrical engineering at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree. Receiving a GM fellowship at Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1988, she obtained a Masters in Business Administration from the school in 1990. Mary attended Waterford schools in Waterford, Michigan. She is a graduate of Waterford Mott High School.


Barra started working for General Motors at the age of 18 as a co-op student in 1980 and subsequently held a variety of engineering and administrative positions, including being manager of the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant.

In February 2008, she became Vice President of Global Manufacturing Engineering. In July 2009 she advanced to the position of Vice President of Global Human Resources, which she held until February 2011, when she was named Executive Vice President of Global Product Development. The latter position included responsibilities for design; she has worked to reduce the number of automobile platforms in GM. In August 2013, her Vice President responsibility was extended to include Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.

In December 2013, Barra was named to replace outgoing CEO Dan Akerson, and assumed the position of CEO in January 2014. During her first year as CEO, General Motors was forced to issue 84 safety recalls involving over 30 million cars. Barra was called before the Senate to testify about the recalls and deaths attributed to the faulty ignition switch. Barra and General Motors also came under suspicion of paying for awards to burnish the CEO and corporation's image during that time.

Awards and honors

Barra was listed as one of the world's most powerful women by Forbes, for the third time, in 2014. She was listed seventh, rising from 35th in 2013.

On May 3, 2014 she delivered the Spring Commencement address for University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus at Michigan Stadium. She received an honorary degree.

Barra was listed number 1 in Fortune's Most Powerful Women list in 2015, moving from 2nd place the year before.

Personal life

Barra's parents are of Finnish descent. She is married to consultant Tony Barra, whom she met while studying at Kettering University, and has two children. The family lives in Northville, a suburb of Detroit. She has named the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird as her favorite cars.

Trumpin uusi neuvonantaja on moottorimimmi Amerikkalaisen autojätin toimitusjohtajan Mary Barran sukujuuret ovat Mäkelän torpassa Köyliön Kankaanpään kylässä.


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Mary Barra's Timeline

December 24, 1961
Royal Oak, Oakland County, Michigan, United States