2014 has been the year of Mary Barra. Earlier this month, she was officially handed the position as the CEO of GM, and since then, she’s been featured on countless magazine covers and in depth articles. Everybody wants a piece, including everyone in the political arena.
Last night, President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union Address and spent a portion of it praising Barra and the American auto industry. In his speech, the President said, “Our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. It’s how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America’s largest automaker. [Mary Barra illustrates] the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams.” Currently, the Barra led American auto industry is doing the best it has in years, signaled by the US Treasury selling off the last of its GM stock in December.
During the speech, Barra sat one row behind Michelle Obama and inside of the first lady’s specialized box. The entire night was a testament to not only the resurgence of the auto industry, but the growing power of women in the workplace.
After the State of the Union, Barra said, “I was honored to accept the first lady’s invitation, and delighted to represent the men and women of GM who are doing their best to make GM a company that Americans can be proud of again. America’s resurgent auto industry is a great comeback story and its contribution to our nation’s economy should be a source of bipartisan pride. GM is doing its part to help lead a stronger auto industry that is creating new jobs and technologies.”
Of course, this isn’t Barra’s first run in with a major political figure this year. Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton was waiting in the wings to lavish praise on GM’s new CEO. During an interview at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in New Orleans, Clinton said, “I’m excited about GM’s new CEO- you might guess I would be. I guess you could say she broke through the steel ceiling, not the glass ceiling…It sends a really good signal to little girls and little boys across our country that we don’t have a person to waste.”
Many critics are saying that the support from Hillary and the Obama’s is only political propaganda. Undoubtedly, some of this true, but there is a bigger story here, a story that deserves to be void of political criticism. The story: the American auto industry is doing great, women are making progress, and the world is a better place for it.