Mahmoud Samara, 44
Vice president, Cadillac North America
Big break: Delivered three years of consecutive record retail sales at Cadillac Canada
Growing up in Dubai formed one of Mahmoud Samara's core beliefs as head of Cadillac North America: Transformation is possible.
"I love the luxury aspect of where I grew up in Dubai and how they redesigned [the city] with seven star resorts and skyscrapers," he said. "I was fascinated with that transformation, and I felt that world of luxury and the passion for automotive are two things that came naturally to me."
Today, General Motors' luxury brand is in the midst of transformation, leading the automaker as it electrifies its portfolio. Samara is tasked with preparing dealers and consumers for electric vehicles and launching a lineup of battery-powered nameplates.
Samara realized his ambition to contribute to the automotive industry more than two decades ago. In 1998, when he graduated from the University of Toledo, his sights were set on GM.
"My aspiration was always to join the largest automotive manufacturer and do business globally," he said.
After Samara graduated, he quickly fulfilled that dream. He was hired as a contract worker for GM Motorsports before taking on positions in customer care, marketing and manufacturing. He had posts in the Middle East, Africa and Canada before becoming managing director of Cadillac Canada.
In Canada, Samara helped achieve record retail sales for three consecutive years. In 2017, Samara moved to the U.S. to become regional director, responsible for sales, service and retail marketing in the Western region.
He joined GM's customer experience team in November 2019 but left for a promotion to lead Cadillac North America in September 2020. During his time on the customer experience side, he helped enhance GM's digital presence, including the automaker's Shop-Click-Drive online shopping tool.
Samara now has global responsibility for dealer network development, customer experience and EV readiness. Over the past several months, he and his team have begun the transition to Cadillac's all-electric lineup, preparing to launch the Cadillac Lyriq early next year and guiding dealers as they update their facilities to sell and service EVs.
Under Samara's leadership, Cadillac's U.S. sales have grown for three consecutive quarters. The first quarter of this year marked Cadillac's best retail sales and share since 2014, Cadillac said.
Focusing on dealer profitability and engagement has been key to sales growth, especially as dealers begin to update their facilities for EVs, Samara said.
"I try to always be open with our dealers and communicate as frequently as I can," he said. "Actions speak louder than words, so when I say I am going to do something, I make sure I execute. I find that these practices in addition to making sure we have consistent engagement with the dealer body allows for that trust to be built."
— Hannah Lutz