The 53-year-old Barra was born Mary Teresa Makela back in 1961. The Waterford, Michigan born mother of two attended Kettering University and Stanford University, both of which she is on the board of trustees for.
Since January of this year, Barra has held the title of Chief Executive Office at global automaker General Motors. Prior to which, the most powerful woman in business served as the company’s Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.
Back in 2014, Time Magazine featured her on the cover of their April issue, which was titled “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
For those who might otherwise think that Barra’s rise to the top of Detroit, Michigan based General Motors Corporation was a quick one, the NY Times reports that Barra began her venture with GM back in 1980 at the age of 18. And it wasn’t until 2008, after she had held a variety of engineering and administrative positions such as plant manager, that she was promoted to VP of Global Manufacturing Engineering.
The following year, in 2009, she received yet another promotion as she climbed up the ladder to VP of Global Human Resources.
Come 2011, Barra was eventually named the Executive Vice President of Global Product Development — a position which she held until 2013 when the position was expanded to include the company’s Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. That was in August. By December of 2013, the company had named her as then CEO Dan Akerson’s replacement.
Second on Fortune’s list of the most powerful businesswomen is Indra Nooyi. Last year, Nooyi ranked third amongst the women of business. But she’s not the only one to move up in rank since last year, as Barra was also on last year’s list — holding down the number two position at the time.
Third on this year’s list is IBM’s current Chairman, President and CEO, Ginni Rometty.