Mary Barra’s Tips on Making It in a Man’s Field

As the recently announced CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra is the highest-ranking woman in the auto industry. What road took the 30-year GM veteran to the top in this highly masculine professional environment? Barra offers some career GPS

by Lesley Kennedy
mary barra image
Photograph: Steve Fecht for General Motors

1. Be a standout Succeeding in business as a woman isn’t about taking a gender count when you walk into a room. It’s about bringing the right abilities to the job and delivering value every day. Embrace your job as if you were going to do it forever, and be better at it than anyone else.

2. Don’t box yourself in Be open to diverse opportunities that enable you to broaden your skills and perspective. Chances to try something new become fewer as you advance to more senior, specialized roles, so step up to unique challenges early—they’re investments in your career.

3. Take time for a personal life Doing an outstanding job does require trade-offs, but don’t trade off everything. The fact that you worked an extra 20 hours one week won’t matter when you look back in five or 10 years. What will matter is that you made your parents’ 50th-anniversary party or your daughter’s soccer play-offs or your son’s driving test. Don’t neglect the personal events that make your life fuller. 

Next: Sheryl Sandberg's Tips on How to Have Tough Conversations at Work

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First published in the October 2013 issue of More

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