Well, that honeymoon didn’t last long. Less than two months into her new job as CEO of GM, Mary Barra is face-to-face with a huge crisis: GM has admitted that the company knew for more than a decade about a defective ignition problem that cost motorists their lives, but it began recalling vehicles only in the past month.
Barra has yet to give a speech about the problem, but she took on the crisis in a short video to GM employees, and has given a press conference. (She is due to testify before Congress soon.)
She did a pretty good job in those early remarks. In the video, she made very clear that she understood how serious the problem is. “Terrible things happened,” she said. And she got personal, saying that the loss of life “hits home to me as a mother.”
She also said that, while GM had apologized, she knew that was just a first step. In her press conference she added, “I take full responsibility for the work going forward. Our goal is something like this never happens again.”
To be sure, she never quite said, “This is GM’s fault. We did wrong, and we’re going to fix it.” I suspect that’s because of influence of company lawyers.
Still, she’s made a good start. I hope she gives a major speech, and keeps moving in the right direction.