General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra, who broke the glass ceiling as the first female chief executive in the global auto industry, has selected another high-achieving woman to join her in the executive suite.
Dhivya Suryadevara, 39, will take over as GM’s chief financial officer on September 1, replacing Chuck Stevens, who is retiring after 40 years with the automaker.
Suryadevara, 39, had been vice president, Corporate Finance, since July 2017 and was instrumental in GM’s divestiture of Opel, acquisition of Cruise, investment in Lyft and more recently, SoftBank’s investment in GM Cruise.
“Dhivya’s experience and leadership in several key roles throughout our financial operations positions her well to build on the strong business results we’ve delivered over the last several years,” said Barra.
Just a small handful of companies have a woman in both the CEO and CFO roles. With Suryadevara’s appointment, 4 of GM’s 17 corporate officers will be female, including Barra, global manufacturing chief Alicia Boler-Davis and global human resources chief Kimberly Brycz. That’s a bit shy of the 27 percent share of women in senior jobs among S&P 500 companies, according to Catalyst, which tracks women in leadership positions. Four of Ford Motor’s 15 officers are women, putting its ratio closer to the S&P 500 average.
But since becoming CEO in 2014, Barra has promoted other women to prominent management roles in important and dynamic areas of the company, and these unsung heroines are now climbing the corporate ladder behind her, including Pam Fletcher, vice president of global electric vehicle programs, and Helen Emsley, head of global design for GMC and Buick.
From 2015 to 2017, Suryadevara served as vice president, Finance and Treasurer, controlling GM’s purse strings, including everything from capital planning to capital markets and worldwide banking. She also managed GM’s $85 billion pension operations.
Suryadevara joined GM in 2005. She received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in commerce from the University of Madras in Chennai, India and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Stevens will remain with the company as an advisor until his retirement in March 2019. He has been a key member of Barra’s senior leadership team, along with President Dan Ammann, as GM simultaneously shed unprofitable businesses while investing for growth in new technologies like electric vehicles and autonomy.
“Chuck has played a crucial role in driving profitable growth across the enterprise for the last several years, as well as being a vital part of the development and execution of all aspects of the core and future business strategies for the company,” said Barra. “Chuck has built a very strong team of financial leaders around the world who serve as important business partners across all markets and operations. I personally want to thank Chuck for being a trusted advisor and for his significant contributions, dedication and commitment to GM throughout his career.”