Meet the executive that Forbes calls the most important woman in the auto industry

GM's driving force behind product development

(WXYZ) - Mary Barra is GM's new driving force behind Global Product Development. She is part of CEO Dan Akerson's plan to speed up development at General Motors and be more aggressive getting new vehicles to market.

Forbes has called her the most important woman in the auto industry right now.

She has been highly visible recently, taking part in the conference call announcing the plans to fix the Chevrolet Volt. She was also integral in debuting the new Buick Encore during the NAIAS press introduction.

Barra was raised in the Detroit area. Her father was a General Motors' employee. She started her GM career at just 18. She studied math and engineering at General Motors Institute. While she started on the line, Barra has also worked in a variety of engineering roles, and was plant manager at the Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant. 

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