Fortune Names GM CEO Mary Barra as Most Powerful Woman in Business

By Nathan Bomey
Detroit Free Press.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra is the most powerful woman in business in the world, according to Fortune magazine.

The honor comes three weeks after the company’s former product development chief became the first female CEO of a major automaker.

“The editors weighed many of the same factors historically used to measure executive power: the size and importance of the business, its health and direction, and the arc of the leader’s career,”

Fortune executive editor Stephanie Mehta said. “The editors placed emphasis on the international nature of the executive’s operation and her standing in the worldwide business community.”

On Fortune’s list of the 50 most powerful women in business, IBM CEO Ginni Rommetty was No. 2, followed by PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi.

The rest of the top 10, in order: Petrobras CEO Maria das Graças Silva Foster, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, Mondelez International CEO Irene Rosenfeld, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, Archer Daniels Midland CEO Pat Woertz and Westpac CEO Gail Kelly.

Barra has generally downplayed the historic nature of her appointment, although she has said she hopes her appointment generates more interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

“My gender doesn’t really factor into my thinking when I come into the room,” she told reporters last month.
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Barra got an endorsement from one high-ranking source in the Fortune story: Berkshire Hathaway billionaire and GM investor Warren Buffett.

“I hope that Mary Barra turns out to be the Alfred Sloan of the 21st Century,” Buffett said, referring to the legendary GM CEO from the mid-20th Century. “From what I’ve seen, she’s got the goods.”

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