Barra is first GMI graduate to be auto CEO

Here's another bit of Mary Barra trivia: She's the first graduate of General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) to become CEO of GM or any automaker.

The 95-year-old engineering and management school in Flint, Mich., has been a breeding ground for GM executives for decades and has produced two company presidents, Pete Estes and F. James McDonald. But Barra, a 1985 grad, is the first CEO.

One of her former professors isn't surprised. Mohammad Torfeh, an electrical and computer engineering instructor, says Barra's leadership was evident during group assignments. He says Barra was a stickler for teamwork.

"As soon as I finished talking about what they needed to do, she was just going 200 miles per hour to do it," Torfeh told Automotive News. "But she was also making sure other classmates were doing it, too. She wanted to make sure everybody was participating."

GMI, which had its first female graduate in 1970, was sold by GM in 1982. Among its grads are GM global purchasing boss Grace Lieblein and Ford product development boss Raj Nair.