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Chief Executive Leadership Institute Honors Mary T. Barra with Legend in Leadership Award

Mary T. Barra, chairman and chief executive of General Motors Company, will accept the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute’s Legend in Leadership Award on September 24 at a ceremony at the Yale CEO Caucus in Washington, D.C.

Mary T. Barra
Mary T. Barra

The award will be presented to Barra by David Abney, chairman and chief executive officer of UPS, and Ellen Kullman, former chairman and chief executive of DuPont. Caucus organizer Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for leadership studies at the Yale School of Management, commented, “Mary Barra has GM in her DNA. She worked in GM for 33 years—starting as an 18-year-old co-op student working on the factory floor—before being named CEO in 2013. Her father worked for GM for almost 40 years as a tool-and-die maker, and Mary went to college at what was then called the General Motors Institute. She held a series of manufacturing, engineering, and senior staff positions, including plant manager, global HR, and global manufacturing engineer. In the aftermath of GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, she led the revitalization of GM’s product development process, resulting in the launch of celebrated new products, the delivery of record product quality ratings, and a dramatic improvement in customer satisfaction.

“Barra led the company through a product-safety crisis she inherited on her first month on the job in January 2014, when an ignition-switch defect led to many deaths in earlier years,” Sonnenfeld continued. “Through toughness, transparency, competence, and putting her A-team talent on this challenge as a top priority, she restored and enhanced public trust. She cut unprofitable businesses to invest in the firm’s future. On the frontiers of autonomous driving, she has sparked profound strategic, technological, and cultural change. Last year in October, she announced a bold new vision targeting: zero accidents, zero emissions, and zero congestion. With strong financial performance, it is no wonder that both Fortune and Forbes have ranked her at the top of the most influential women leaders in the world.”

The Legend in Leadership Award was created 25 years ago to honor current and former CEOs who serve as living legends to inspire chief executives across industries, sectors, and nations. Past recipients include: Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast; Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin; Ron Shaich of Panera; Zhang Ruimin of Haier Group; Brian Moynihan of Bank of America; Kenneth Frazier of Merck; Jim McNerney of Boeing; Ian Cook of Colgate-Palmolive; Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs; Klaus Kleinfeld of Alcoa; Gao Xiqing of China Investment Corporation; D. Scott Davis of UPS; Fu Chengyu of Sinopec; Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo; Jeff Immelt of GE; Jeff Bewkes of Time Warner; Frank Blake of Home Depot; Dave Cote of Honeywell; Ellen Kullman of DuPont; Alan Mulally of Ford; Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical Company; Duncan Niederauer of the NYSE; Ken Chenault of American Express; David Stern of the NBA; Ratan Tata of the Tata Group; Mike Ullman of JCPenney; Infosys founder Nandan Nilekani; Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase; Robert Iger of Walt Disney; Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone; Roger Enrico of PepsiCo; John Pepper of Procter & Gamble; Don Keough of Coca-Cola Co.; McKinsey founder Marvin Bower; Jim Kelly of UPS; Vanguard founder Jack Bogle; Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon; Richard Teerlink of Harley-Davidson; Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson; financier Wilbur Ross; and Lou Gerstner of IBM.

The caucus theme is “Who Will Pass Their Midterms? Business Opportunities and Election Outcomes.” Distinguished global corporate leaders from across industries will engage in lively, candid discussions at this invitation-only leaders’ conference hosted by the Yale School of Management.

Caucus participants include: Senator Mark Warner; Senator Jon Kyl; Bob Woodward of The Washington Post; Peter Navarro, director of the National Trade Council; Michael Dell of Dell Technologies; Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin; Mark Weinberger of EY; General Michael Hayden, 15th director of the NSA; Steve Liesman of CNBC; David Abney of UPS; Richard Adkerson of Freeport-McMoRan; Richard Anderson of Amtrak; Congressman John Yarmuth; Nick Pinchuk of Snap-on; Rick Goings of Tupperware; Joel Myers of AccuWeather; Blake Moret of Rockwell Automation; Ajita Rajendra of A. O. Smith; Harold Yoh of Day & Zimmermann; Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform; and Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

 Conference partners include Edelman, EY, Korn Ferry, PepsiCo, UPS, Central Asset Investments, and CNBC.

The Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute was founded in 1989 to provide original research on top leadership and lively, current educational forums through peer-driven learning for accomplished leaders across a range of sectors. For more information, visit