GM CEO Mary Barra first woman to lead Business Roundtable

Barra will succeed Walmart CEO Doug McMillon as chair

General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be the new chair of Business Roundtable the association announced Wednesday, making her the first woman tapped to hold the top spot. Her two-year term begins on Jan. 1.

The current chair of the lobbyist group representing dozens of the largest U.S. businesses is Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon, who succeeded JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon at the healm.

JP Morgan Jamie Dimon

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon (Reuters) (Reuters / Reuters Photos)

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"Mary has a long track record of success and is a business leader who recognizes the strength of the multi-stakeholder approach to creating value, and I am thrilled to pass the baton to her," McMillon said in a statement. "Her understanding of America’s workforce and vision for the future is the exact perspective the Roundtable needs as we continue to work with Congress and the Administration on public policies for tomorrow."

Walmart Doug McMillon

Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon (Reuters) (Reuters)

Barra began her career at GM forty years ago as a co-op student in the Pontiac Motor Division. She became CEO of the automaker in January of 2014, navigating the company that same year through a subsequent recall scandal that had been years in the making.

Since then, she has walked the firm through an extended union strike followed by an SEC probe into its $2 billion transaction with electric vehicle maker Nikola. Barra was also hit with accusations of racism last year by a group of Black-owned media leaders who accused her of refusing to meet with them, an allegation both she and GM denied.

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Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo) (Reuters)

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The CEO joined the Business Roundtable in 2017, and currently serves as chair of the Education and Workforce Committee.

"It is an honor to be elected Chair of Business Roundtable," Barra said in a statement. "I appreciated Doug’s leadership as the Roundtable navigated through many challenges including our response to COVID-19 and leading toward economic recovery as well as our work to advance racial equity and justice. I look forward to continuing to help advance policies that offer greater economic growth and opportunity for all Americans."