GM promotes Grace Lieblein to head of global purchasing, supply chain
More women getting top roles at automaker
Since joining GM as a co-op student in 1978, Lieblein has served in a variety of leadership roles in engineering, product development and manufacturing.
DETROIT -- General Motors has appointed the head of its Brazil operations as the company's global purchasing czar.
Grace Lieblein, 52, will oversee GM's $77 billion annual purchasing budget as the company's vice president of global purchasing and supply chain, GM said in a statement today. She will assume the post immediately, reporting to GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky.
The position wields enormous power throughout the world's supply chain, influencing more than 3,000 suppliers that provide parts, components and services to GM's global operations.
Lieblein will oversee 6,700 employees worldwide. The job also includes responsibility for GM's logistics operations globally.
Top women executives
She will be the first woman to lead GM's global purchasing operation. Her promotion is the latest in a string of female appointments to top GM posts under CEO Dan Akerson.
Others include Mary Barra as global product chief; Cynthia Brinkley as vice president of human resources; and Mary Chan, president of global connected customer, which includes infotainment and OnStar.
Lieblein also is the highest ranking Hispanic woman at GM, a company spokesman said. She grew up in Los Angeles. Her father was from Cuba and her mother was from Nicaragua.
Lieblein succeeds Bob Socia, who in September was reassigned to head GM China. Kim Brycz, who had served as the interim purchasing chief, will keep her post as executive director of GM's indirect materials, machinery and equipment.
Socia, who became purchasing czar in 2009, won praise from suppliers for improving communication and transparency around GM's technical needs and production schedules. Under his watch, GM's standing in industry supplier-relations ratings has risen steadily.
Last year, Socia said GM spends $77 billion on direct material purchases and another $7 billion on logistics. The GM spokesman said he couldn't provide updated figures.
Lieblein has been president and managing director of GM Brazil since April 2011. Before that, she was president of GM Mexico.
Long track record
Since joining GM as a co-op student in 1978, Lieblein has served in a variety of leadership roles in engineering, product development and manufacturing, GM said.
In 2010, Automotive News named her one of the 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry.
"Grace's track record is a diverse and very successful one that has prepared her well for this critical role," Girsky said in a statement.
"Her wealth of experience in product development, manufacturing and general management gives her the insight needed to lead our Global Purchasing and Supply Chain organization and develop mutually beneficial and productive relationships with our suppliers."
Last week, Lieblein was appointed to the board of directors for supplier Honeywell International Inc., which is estimated to control about half of the global turbocharger market. She will continue to serve in that role, a GM spokesman said. Akerson has said he values his officers serving on outside boards, a practice that once was discouraged inside GM.
Lieblein will relocate from Brazil to the Detroit area early next year, GM said. Jaime Ardila, president of GM South America, will serve as interim president of GM Brazil.
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