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Do GM and Johnson & Johnson Have Something In Common?

Do GM and Johnson & Johnson Have Something In Common?

Mary Barra GM CEO

GM has acknowledged it learned about the problem switches at least 11 years ago, yet it failed to recall the cars until last month. Barra, who became CEO on Jan. 15, said that she found out about the switch problem in late December (2013) and had no knowledge of it before that.

Oh wait she just stepped into the position so we really can’t fault her, can we?


Barra began her career with GM in 1980 as a General Motors Institute (Kettering University) co-op student at the Pontiac Motor Division. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering.

In 1990, Barra graduated with a Masters in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business after receiving a GM fellowship in 1988.

And wait for it….

Previously, Barra served as GM Vice President, Global Human Resources; Vice President, Global Manufacturing Engineering; Plant Manager, Detroit Hamtramck Assembly; Executive Director of Competitive Operations Engineering; and in several engineering and staff positions.

Vague ‘engineering and staff positions’ aren’t being used to distance Ms. Barra from the 13 GM deaths, would it?

And doesn’t this pattern remind us of another STORY from another industry responsible for killing people?

And still more…

Prior to her current position, Barra served as Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply Chain since August 2013, and as Senior Vice President, Global Product Development since February 2011. In these roles, she was responsible for the design, engineering, program management and quality of GM vehicles around the world. She was also a member of the GM Executive Operations Committee and the Adam Opel AG Supervisory Board.

Again, all those fancy titles and yet as the public we need to start questioning corporate PR Spin when we see things like” and in several engineering and staff positions,”  and more importantly not allow our lawmakers to let them off the hook!

Ms. Barra testified before the House of Representatives committee earlier this week.

Lawmakers are seeking to establish who is to blame for at least 13 GM auto-related deaths over the past decade and challenged Barra over the automaker’s slow response to defective ignition switches in its Cobalt and Saturn Ion cars.

“This was an extraordinary situation that came to light on my watch,” Maria Barra said in her prepared statement. “I can’t turn back the clock, but we acted without hesitation. Today’s GM will do the right thing.

 Turn back the clock?  Ahhh wasn’t she there from 1988-present according the the GM bio on Ms. Barra?  

While I’m grateful House of Representatives committee shedding light on the GM case, where were they during the Risperdal case?

Wouldn’t we like to see Alex Gorsky answer (or not really answer) these questions about deaths  on National television?

Why are car makers being held to a different standard than pharmaceutical companies when it comes to consumer/patient deaths?

Hey that could the next Case Study, couldn’t it?



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