Hollywood vs. Detroit

Sometimes it seems that other industries are in some ways more progressive than auto.

Sometimes it seems that other industries are in some ways more progressive than auto.

To which one could respond with a great big HA!

Consider, for example, Hollywood.

That’s really a place where there are forward thinkers and innovators and imaginative leaders and whatnot, right?

Well, shortly before the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) named General Motors one of the 2015 “Top Companies for Executive Women,” the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African-American Studies at UCLA released its “2015 Hollywood Diversity Report.”

And among the findings: Film studio heads were 94 percent white and 100 percent male.”

This is a picture of Alicia Boler-Davis (left) and Mary Barra (right):

G

Photo: Monica Morgan

Boler-Davis is senior vice president, Global Connected Customer Experience at General Motors. (As an industry colleague pointed out to me, when it comes to titles at GM, “Global” is essential for those who matter.)

Barra, of course, is GM CEO.

Yes, here are two women who matter in a BIG way at GM.

There is something else that is worth pointing out about these two executives.

It is sometimes seemingly the case that “manufacturing” and “production” are simply necessary but not particularly important parts of this business.

Which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Bohler-Davis started at GM in 1994. As a manufacturing engineer. She was to go on to other manufacturing roles (e.g., plant manager at Lansing Consolidated Operations, Arlington Assembly, Orion Assembly, and Pontiac Stamping) during her career. Now, a direct report to Barra, Boler-Davis is charged with providing customers the best service and experience in the business.

Barra started at GM in 1980 as a co-op student at what was then General Motors Institute. Along the way, she, too, held many manufacturing positions, including plant manager at Detroit Hamtramck Assembly, and vice president, Global Manufacturing Engineering. (Note “Global.”)

And now she runs one of the biggest car companies on the planet.

If you ever think that auto is behind the times, think again.

And congratulations to General Motors.