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General Motors names first female CEO

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General Motors is naming Mary Barra as its next CEO, the person to lead the company, now that GM is no longer "Government Motors".

GM announced this morning that current CEO Dan Akerson will leave the company, January 15th. In a statement, GM said that Akerson pulled ahead his succession plan by several months after his wife was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

"I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America's standard bearer in the global auto industry,"Akerson said in his message to employees.

Barra is the first woman CEO of any major automaker. She has been with GM for 33 years and is currently the executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain. An engineer, she started as an intern, and has worked her way up. She has been an engineer at the factory level, she ran the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant and was the global head of engineering.

"With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today's GM," said Barra, in a statement. "I'm honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed."

Barra told me in an interview at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show that she gets her love of cars from her father who was a tool and die maker for GM.

The leadership changes are being announced just one day after the government sold its final shares of General Motors, ending the bailout. The Treasury took about at $10 billion dollar loss, but saved hundreds of thousands of jobs in the industry.

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