Akerson calls Mary Barra a GM CEO candidate

Mary Barra: Now top product exec
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Speculation about who comes after Dan Akerson as General Motors' CEO was stoked last week when Akerson himself named Mary Barra is a possible successor.

It sounded like an endorsement of Barra, 50, the company's global product development chief. According to Reuters, Akerson said that women deal with change better than men, and that GM still has a lot of changes to make since its 2009 bankruptcy and government bailout.

According to Reuters, Akerson specifically named Barra as a CEO candidate.

Akerson said it was critical for GM to increase the ranks of its top female executives. Of course, he was speaking at a conference in Palm Beach, Fla., that discussed women in the economy. But it was not the first time Barra's abilities have been called out by the boss. Last October, Akerson called her "one of the best talents I've seen in my working career -- not GM; my working career."

The other CEO candidates most often mentioned are Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, 50, and North American operations chief Mark Reuss, 48.

Akerson, 63, gave no time frame for his exit and said he would stay as long as the board wanted him. As for his successor, he noted: "It's the board's job [to pick a replacement], not mine" and said he wouldn't try to handicap the race.

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