Crisis-Averting Career Lessons From Go-Getting CEO Mary Barra

c2cbece3db80358c2da541622f046766Mary Barra stepped into the lead role of a big company, with a legacy to boot; she was living the dream. Stanford grad, engineer, General Motors CEO, the first woman ever to head a Big 8 automaker, Barra is the epitome of the path-forging 21st-century woman. But her journey, like many other successful women, isn’t one of sunshine and rainbows. Through trials in the public eye, Mary Barra proves that perseverance is the ultimate tool that every career girl needs to drive her own life in the right direction. 

#1 Step up and prove yourself.

General Motors recalls had been bubbling under the surface for several years before Barra stepped up as CEO, affecting millions of vehicles, some incidents even resulted in death. This didn’t bode well for the company. As a woman, a CEO, and a public figure in the automotive industry, Barra’s job was difficult to begin with; being called to testify before Congress only 77 days into her post was the icing on the cake. Sometimes in life we are put into a position where we have to make up for mistakes made before us, it’s easy to give up at the first hurdle, Mary must have faced a great deal of negativity firstly for being a woman, secondly for putting her face on a company that had a bad reputation, but she stuck at it, accepted the negativity and worked through it.


#2 Keep going, even when times get tough.

Mary stayed, despite the negativity and bad press. The average person would have been forgiven for leaving. The obstacles ahead might have proved too challenging to overcome while maintaining the company at its high standard. But Mary did the unthinkable. She put her own reputation on the line and tucked her pride away, taking full responsibility for the crisis and firing a handful of important employees to make a statement about the new direction of the company. Accepting the blame was a blow to her dignity, firing important colleagues was a blow to her image. But that is what Barra needed to do to get to a better place, regardless of how difficult it was. 

#3 Accept that bad times can be overcome.

What Mary is really saying here is that when crisis strikes, you have to buckle down; persevere, and do what is right no matter how hard it might seem. Oftentimes, doing the right thing takes a lot of strength and willpower, and you might upset important people in the process. In order to get to a better place, a career girl must accept the obstacles at hand and sometimes put herself at risk in order to overcome them. It seems a bit negative, but actually it’s a really positive thing. You never know if sometime during your career, or even your life, you might be faced with a crisis. You might have to overcome challenges and negativity and speak out against others. If you know what you’re doing is for the best, then you’re already on the way to overcoming whatever roadblock is in your way.

Climbing up the corporate ladder is no easy feat, but if you’re still breathing at the end of the day, you’re doing something right. Keep it up! 

Written by Britany Powell.

Get on the list



Join the CGD team for all things fashion, beauty, career and everything us CGD girls are up to!