2014
03.18

It’s all over the news today. You can’t miss it. General Motors is issuing yet another recall of 1.5 million vehicles, part of an effort to assure car buyers that it’s moving faster to rectify safety defects in its vehicles. In a video message to employees posted Monday, CEO Mary Barra says the new recall stems from a push to review potential safety issues and resolve them more quickly.

Here’s the back story, last month more than 1.6 million small cars were recalled for defective engine switches. This puts total recall to more than 3 million, which analysts say is the largest recall to date. The defects are linked to 12 deaths, and GM is facing multiple investigations into how it handled the recall. GM first began investigating the switches in 2004.

Barra admits, “Something went wrong with our process in this instance, and terrible things happened. As a member of the GM family and as a mom with a family of my own, this really hits home for me. And we have apologized. But that is just one step in the journey to resolve this.”

She now intends to have GM undergo an intense review of its recall procedure and she wants to change the system and that means cooperating with government investigators. She went on to say that GM will get better as a result of this tragic situation if it seizes this opportunity.

And you know what, probably for the first time in a long time I believe this automaker is talking from the heart. It’s no surprise to many of you that follow my blogs that I have been very critical of the car companies.

Let’s face it, all of these behemoths have been pushing cars out the door without taking the time to make sure you know exactly what you are buying. No one has taken the time to properly educate you on the technology inside the vehicles, which makes everyone on the road frustrated and more distracted when driving trying to figure out all the buttons and nobs on the dashboards. It would be a fair statement to say they all need a good kick in the pants.

We all agree the saga does not bode well for GM. Surely GM’s reputation will take a hit for this fiasco, if not to its stock price. If nothing else it does cast a poor light on the company for not following the proper recall procedures, no doubt. GM anticipates taking a $300 million charge in the first quarter alone to repair the vehicles in the new recalls as well as the vehicles in the small car recall.

With all that being said, I have to commend Barra for stepping up to the plate and taking full responsibility for the problems she inherited. Let’s be honest, here is a woman who just took the helm in January and already she is being tasked with facing the media. This is a nightmare of a problem. Yet, she is showing her muster, by stepping up to the mic and taking full responsibility as CEO for things that occurred 10 years before she was even in charge. She’s not waiting for the results of the investigation to make a comment. If it was not for the indefatigable actions of Barra to address the public immediately, stock prices would be plummeting to all-time lows. 

I think this says a lot about her as a leader and it shows GM is serious about rectifying the problems under the new leadership at GM. Barra is demonstrating she is shepherding a new company. As an engineer herself who moved up the ranks she gets more than most the importance of performance and safety. She recognizes what needs to happen and she truly knows how to fix it. She understands what data means in this world of M2M and she can gather and mine all the information to assimilate it and see problems long before they happen. She will change the face of GM forever and this could be a better company that could be financially stronger than it has ever been before.

Barra is showing the new and improved GM under her leadership. That is exactly why we named her a Women of M2M. She has the perseverance to drive this company forward. This says a lot about her as a leader who says what she means and does what she says. She still has a lot to prove, but already she has let her actions prove that the turmoil that was created 10 years ago from a company that was just trying to shed costs and didn’t know how to service customers could finally be turning the corner. It might have taken a woman to lead the way, but the car industry is heading into a new direction and consumers will be the ones who will enjoy the ride.

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