Amanda Drago
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Mary Barra Is One of the Most Influential People of 2021

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Mary Barra speaks at a podium
Mary Barra
Photo: John F. Martin for General Motors

Time magazine named General Motors CEO Mary Barra to its list of The 100 Most Influential People Of 2021. This comes just a few months after General Motors landed on the 2021 Time100 Most Influential Companies list.

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What makes Barra influential?

Former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty sang her praise for Barra in the TIME article, referring to her as “the most authentic leader.” Less than 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs, and Barra was the first woman to be a CEO of a major automaker.

She began her career at GM as a line inspector at just 18 years old, and she has been with the automaker ever since. She worked her way up to the top spot of the company in 2014 and is now using her position to fight climate change.

Mary Barra speaking in front of a car platform and a sign saying, "Our Electric Future Is Now"
Mary Barra announcing plans for an electric future
Photo: General Motors

With plans to invest $35 billion in EVs and autonomous vehicles, GM expects to have an all-electric lineup by 2035. The company also has announced its intention to be carbon neutral by 2040 and solely use renewable energy at its U.S. facilities by 2030.

Another issue that Barra is passionate about is women’s empowerment. Many women don’t go for opportunities unless they meet all the criteria for it, while many men would do so as long as they fit most of the criteria. She wants to push more women to go after these opportunities.

Barra also signed the OneTen coalition, which aims to hire and promote more Black Americans. It intends to do so by connecting employers with non-profits, talent partners, and additional organizations that work to develop diverse talent.

Mary Barra and Elon Musk were the only two CEOs in the automotive industry to make The 100 Most Influential People Of 2021 list, both earning praise for pushing EVs. Tesla may be leading EV sales right, but as GM works toward an all-electric lineup, this may change in the next decade.