Mary Barra Bio

I spend a lot of time studying the lives of the rich and famous, and I often find that whenever the word CEO crops up, it seems to be males holding the position. Therefore, I am always excited when I find a female CEO who has made a successful career for themselves.

I was even more interested in Mary Barra because not only is she an independent woman and chief executive of a company, but the company she runs is one that some may consider a male lead role.

She is the CEO of General Motors, which I think is just fab. I imagine she has to be a powerful character who feels proud in her position, especially when she succeeded Daniel Akerson as CEO.

Throughout this Mary Barra bio, I am going to be looking at how she earned her position as CEO of General Motors, and also what she did prior, where she was educated, and give you a little glimpse into her private life and family.

Once you have finished reading all about Mary Barra, you should look at our Ursula Burns Bio, another inspirational and empowered woman in the business world.

Mary Barra Bio Facts

Full Name: Mary Teresa Barra
Birth Date: 24th December 1961
Birth Place: Royal Oak, Michigan, United States
Nick Name: Unknown
Nationality: American with Finnish descent
Siblings: Brother – Paul Makela,
Children: Daughter – Rachel, Son – Nicholas
Partner / Spouse: Anthony. E. Barra
Profession: Chair, chief executive and CEO of General Motors
Salary: $22 million
Net Worth: $60 million
Social Media:Mary Barra (@mtbarra) / Twitter, Mary Barra (@marybarra2021) • Instagram photos and videos,
Companies Associated With: General Motors,
Last Updated: August 2022

Mary Barra Key Facts Summary

Mary Barra Key Facts

  • She has been the chair, chief executive, and CEO of General Motors since 2014. [1]
  • She’s the first female CEO of a Big Three automaker. [2]
  • She took the CEO position at the company in place of Daniel Akerson in 2013. [3]
  • She was the vice president of global product development before becoming General Motors’s CEO.
  • By 2017, Mary had assets worth almost $22 million and was named the highest-paid executive of the Detroit Three.
  • She was on the board of directors for General Dynamics.
  • She was the twelfth person to be elected to the board of Disney in 2017 and the fourth female.
  • She was named by Forbes as the 35th Most Powerful Woman in 2013 and then came fourth on the same list in 2018.
  • In 2014, she was featured on the front of Time magazine as one of the world’s top 100 most influential people.
  • She was voted the most influential woman by Fortune in 2015.
  • In 2016 she joined a business forum that had been put together by President Donald Trump to provide advice about economic issues.

Mary Barra Birthplace and Early Life


Mary was born on the 24th of December 1961 in Royal Oak, Michigan. Her parents, who are of Finnish descent, were called Eva and Ray, and her mother was Finnish-American [4].

Her father, Ray, was a die maker for a company called Pontiac which was a brand of General Motors, so I am guessing Mary had a good knowledge of the company from a very early age.

Her mother was a housewife, while Mary was just a child and stayed at home raising her two children.


When it came time for Mary to start her later education, she went straight into the General Motors institute as a student. It was 1985, and she was just 18 at the time; by the time she graduated, she had earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. [5]

While attending University, Mary was inducted into the IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu, an honor society, and the MI Zeta class of 1985.

After she graduated from University, she attended the Stanford Graduate Business School, where she was on a General Motors fellowship. This resulted in her receiving a Master’s in Business Admin degree, which she got in 1990. [6]

Mary Barra Early Business Success

Mary Barra Early Business Success

Mary was only 18 when she first entered the world of General Motors, she joined as a co-op student in 1980, and her main jobs were things like inspecting hoods and checking panels. She used her wages from this role to pay for her college fees [7], so even at this young age, she clearly had a good strategy and business mind.

She held several roles at General Motors while she was studying at college, one of which included managing the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly Plant [8]

She became the Vice President of Global Manufacturing and Engineering in 2008, and the following year, moved up to the role of Vice President of Global Human Resources.

She held this position for around three years until she was eventually moved up again to the role of Vice President of Global Product Development, and another two years later, her role was expanded and now included Global Purchases and Supply Chain. [9]

Mary Barra became the first female head of an automobile manufacturer when she took the chief executive job in 2014, a position I imagine she was incredibly proud to hold.

While Mary was in the CEO position, she moved for General Motors to expand into electric and driverless vehicles [11]. The company started stocking and selling the Chevy Bolt EVA in 2017, which was the first electric car under $40,000 that had a range of 200 miles, beating their competitor, Tesla.

Mary Barra Videos

Females First, Jenna Bush Hager chats with Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, who is pushing for more females at the company and is also an advocate of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) for females.

Mary Barra, First Female Auto Industry CEO, On Women And Leadership | TODAY – YouTube

Mary talks on CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ and breaks down General Motors’ latest earnings review, the demand for their upcoming electric vehicles, and more topics.

GM CEO Mary Barra: We See Strong Demand for Our Electric Vehicles – YouTube

President Joe Biden visited Detroit to take a sneak peek at a new General Motors warehouse that will be manufacturing electric cars, the first of which will be the Hummer. Mary takes NBC’s Tom Costello on a private tour of the factory.

Mary Barra Business Failures

Up until she worked as chief executive for General Motors, Mary had a pretty bill when it came to failures and controversies. However, during her first year in the position, between 2014 and 2015, the company had to recall 84 recalls which included over 30 million automobiles.

Mary had to testify in front of the Senate to discuss the deaths caused by this faulty ignition switch.

The company and Mary came under scrutiny when they were accused of bribery to try and gloss over the company’s negative image through the investigations.

After the controversies surrounding General Motors had died down, they decided it best to create new policies that ensured problems were reported if any employees thought there was an issue.

She faced backlash in 2018, along with criticism from President Donald Trump, about the fact that she had made 14,000 people unemployed after the closure of five North American plants. Trump even made threats about removing the company’s government assets.

Mary Barra Family

Mary Barra Family

Mary met her now husband, Anthony E. Barra while studying at the General Motors Institute. They married when she was still relatively young and went on to have two children together.

Their children are called Rachel and Nicholas, and although they like to keep their children’s lives out of the public eye as much as possible, I do know that Nicolas has a keen eye for trucks and often helps his mum to come up with new ideas for the company.

Mary Barra’s Net Worth and Career Earnings

Just like her home and married life, Mary likes to keep the details of earning pretty well hidden, but we know her net worth is around $60 million, which is quite an achievement for a female icon in the automotive world.

Mary Barra Real Estate Holdings

Once again, I presume Mary doesn’t want the world to know the ins and outs of where she and her family live. However, I can tell you that she hasn’t traveled far from her hometown of Michigan or her family home. She always owns a separate apartment in another area of Detroit. [12]

Mary Barra Quotes

Mary Barra Quotes

Being one of the most inspirational women in America, Mary certainly has a lot to say for herself, so she should. She wouldn’t have gotten where she was today if she wasn’t so outspoken.

Here are just a few of the meaningful quotes that Mary has said.

“My definition of innovative is providing value to customers.”

“What I always say is ‘Do every job as though you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, and demonstrate the ownership of it.'”

“A car is thirty thousand parts you’re putting together.”

“I have worked for many great leaders that I felt provided my peers and me, many of them who are women, with opportunities.”

Mary Barra Bio FAQs

Question: Who was CEO of General Motors Before Mary Barra?

Answer: While Mary was acting as Vice President of General Motors, the company’s CEO was Daniel Ackers.

Question: Is Mary Barra Married?

Answer: Yes. Mary met her husband Tony when she was a student at General Motors. They got married not too long after they met and went on to have two children together, Rachel and Nicolas. The family lives together in Michigan.

Question: What is Mary Barra’s Style When it Comes to Leadership?

Answer: It has been reported that when it comes to her leadership style, she is hugely influential; she believes in diversity, fights for women’s empowerment, and makes everyone around her feel valued and appreciated. She considers this style beneficial to the morale and performance of her employees and colleagues.

Research Citations:

  11. GM’s Mary Barra: First Ride In Driverless Car Beyond Incredible (
  12. Mary Barra’s house (Former) in Northville, MI (Google Maps) (
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