China, GM, Mary Barra discussed on Next Question with Katie Couric


When Mary Barra became CEO of GM and twenty fourteen. She was not only the first female Co. GM's history she was also the first woman to lead any of the big three. Detroit automakers talk about a glass ceiling, Mary credits her role models for helping her realize that it was hers to smash. I think for me. It starts. I had a phenomenal mother who made me. She just encouraged me from the day. I was born that I and my brother and I. We could do anything we could be anything and if we worked hard, we can make it happen, and so she you know I think having that you know through my life I I always had this belief in myself. and so I think that carried me. Into you know many of the positions leading up to this, and and gave me that confidence because one of the things when I was in this job Actually a daughter of one of our employees Said said to me because you're in this role I now see that I can do this. And I hadn't been again because of my mom. Just you know it was just such an encouraging person. I had I had a really step back and think about that. And that caused me realize I had an extra role to play a national of of championing. Young women because we've, we've done a lotta work. As Katie mentioned earlier from a gender perspective and helping women understand some of the situations, they put themselves in You know I always use the example If there is a posting for a new job, a woman will look at it and say if there's ten requirements and she only has nine of them. She'll be like a bummer where a man will look at and say I've got six of ten I'm GonNa. Go for and what I wanted to. Know don't be mad at them. You go for it because even if you don't get the position, you're going to learn and so. I think when I got to roll. It was something that I very quickly realized. I could play an additional role of really encouraging. Girls and young women, and and being a champion, but also working within the company for that, and then to as we did more work from from bias, you know the everyone has so being able to start talking about that in sharing what we've learned because I have found personally as I realize. Some of the ways I was looking at things were just not right. It really gave me the opportunity. We started having dialogue and conversation about it, and so I think that's been one of the. Things that I think has been powerful within our group, but we also brought. We do a lot of high-performance teamwork. We work with an outside coach to to really help us know ourselves understand our week weaknesses where we can be better. Where are blind spots and I think that were has been important for a now lays the foundation for us to have very important conversations and take the actions. We need to take now at end to hold ourselves accountable, so Mary Let's talk about business I so how the pandemic affected your business, because while all this is going on, it's against the backdrop of a pandemic that has. Laid bare some serious social issues, but I'm just curious. Did you realize early on what is serious problem? This was going to be because you have facilities all over the world including China. Yes and well before we transition and. Be Happy to to talk about that. I would say that the issue we've been discussing I. Do see as a huge business issue. For business to address and be part of the systemic change that we need to make to uphold our responsibilities as citizens and as corporate leader so. That's actually a very good point. This is business. It's not the bottom line it's it's workplace culture, so thank you for which dry wit which drives the bottom line you down. People have traces, and if you don't have a culture of inclusion, and you aren't valuing everyone over time, people can can choose so I just wanted to say that, but as it relates to Kovin. Clearly as as we were in the early part of the year, a late January early February. We started to see the impact on China. you know we? We had to shutter shutter facilities there and a really work and make sure we were doing the right thing for our people and you know reaching out with their suppliers dealers, etc, so. At that point, though was still not clear, if it would have the global reach that now clearly it has as as we did see that happening. We were able to take all of the learnings from China and Ben from Korea and other operations around the globe, and that very much informed what we what? We did when North America. was was impacted, and frankly, then as China came back, everyone was able to come back to work. All the lessons learned informed what we did. So one of the things that has been a silver lining from this tragic pandemic has been. you know I, think in the past. Sometimes we have a a mindset of well. I'm different because I'm in this country. You're on different. It's different here because. And this with this, everybody realized what. They've you know there's people who have experienced with this pandemic at how it impacts the workplace in and work in finances and every aspect of the business in so the the the desire to learn and the outreach across a just general motors I thought was very very powerful is has made us stronger and so it was something very significant, because when you're an automobile company and you stop making vehicles, it's pretty significant, were pretty capital intensive business, and so we had to take dramatic action quickly of and went through a zero based budgeting process to save. Save money to make sure. We're going to be secured with all the unknowns that you've had in in March in April and so we focused on those steps the minute we had to shut her plants down. Though in the United States that there was a team already starting to work of what do we need to do to run and also because we didn't have some essential services, how do we make sure we provide a a safe environment so One of our leaders kinda coined this phrase, but he said I. It's lives than its livelihood. And we're going to focus on lives and make sure we're creating a safe environment, and then we'll focus on livelihood than that of the corporation, and that's what guy has guided us through it. And continues to this day because I think we all sit, not knowing will be will will there be another spike. How will that be handled? How long will it be barriers of You know medical treatments or a vaccine, and so we're we're. A tremendous scenario planning hoping for the best of being prepared for a less optimal outcome, and that's how we're facing up from a business perspective. Do. Find it very impressive that Yes for a business like yours which requires manufacturing which requires you know. Plants and All kinds of operations that must keep going to have to pivot is a really big decision. I think after right after you shut down the North American operations. The team began working with Fintech to manufacture ventilators. That is s a huge decision to make and to to put into action. How did that happen? And how.

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