The auto industry C-suite remains a clubby, still mostly white, man's world. On Wednesday, June 13, America's largest automaker, General Motors, delivered a thundering knock on that door.
Four years after naming Mary Barra as CEO, GM has doubled down with its appointment of 39-year-old Dhivya Suryadevara (DIV'-ee-yah sur-yah-DEV'-rah) as CFO. The move will make GM the only automaker — and one of just two Fortune 500 companies — with women as CEO and CFO.
Suryadevara, who was not made available for comment, has been in the thick of change at GM, helping to orchestrate deals intended to propel it from automaker to transportation services provider. That transition is crucial as the industry prepares for such historic business challenges as the rise of autonomous vehicle fleets, ride-hailing services and monthly vehicle subscription programs.
Suryadevara's work experience is relevant to GM's goals over the next 20 years, Morningstar Research auto analyst David Whiston told Automotive News.
"It's a very competitive industry. There's a lot of disruption. GM needs to stay at the forefront of that," Whiston said.
Suryadevara was involved in last year's sale of Opel to PSA Group, GM's acquisition of Cruise Automation, the automaker's $500 million bet on ride-hailing company Lyft and in last month's $2.25 billion investment in GM's autonomous vehicle business by Japan's SoftBank.
GM is well-positioned for the future, Suryadevara told Crain's Detroit Business last year.
"There's certainly uncertainty on how [autonomous vehicles, electrification and ride-sharing] will play out, but we think it's going great," she said. Automakers "are going to be disrupted; we don't want to be the one that's disrupted. We want to be the disrupter, but with a strong balance sheet."