General Motors Co. is about to have two of the auto industry’s highest-ranking women in the upper echelons of its management team.
Dhivya Suryadevara, GM’s vice president of corporate finance for the last 11 months, will become CFO on Sept. 1, replacing Chuck Stevens, the company said on June 13. Suryadevara, 39, played a key role in GM divesting its German affiliate Opel, acquiring self-driving car unit Cruise Automation, investing in ride-hailing startup Lyft Inc. and arranging a recent investment by SoftBank Vision Fund.
“Dhivya’s experience and leadership in several key roles throughout our financial operations positions her well to build on the strong business results we’ve delivered over the last several years,” said Mary Barra, GM’s CEO.
GM will join a very short list of S&P 500 companies, including Hershey Co. and American Water Works Co., with women serving as CEO and CFO. Barra has promoted women to some key positions since taking the top job in January 2014. Two years ago, she named Alicia Boler Davis as executive vice president of global manufacturing, and Barra appointed Kim Brycz as senior vice president of human resources in March.
But those three are the only women among GM’s 17 corporate officers. With Suryadevara replacing Stevens, the Detroit-based automaker’s ranks will get closer to mirroring the share of women in senior jobs among S&P 500 companies, which is 27 percent, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit that tracks women in leaderships positions. The automaker’s board is tied with several other companies as the most diverse among S&P 500 companies with half of its directors being women.
Stevens, 58, has been CFO since January 2014 and will retire in March as a more than 40-year veteran of the company. He began at the Buick division in 1978 and, like Barra, was educated at General Motors Institute, which became Kettering University. He had a key role in GM establishing its joint venture in China with SAIC Motor Corp. and was a crucial player in GM selling its long-struggling Opel business to French automaker PSA Group.
“Stevens was well respected and liked by the Street and the timing of the announcement did catch us by surprise,” Joe Spak, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets with the equivalent of a buy rating on GM, said in a note to clients. “We expect a smooth transition and status quo on the strategy.”
By David Welch and Jeff Green