General Motors gets its first woman CFO; Chennai-born Dhivya makes history
Dhivya Suryadevara, an accomplished Indian-American chartered financial analyst, has been named the chief finance officer of the US’ largest automaker, General Motors, the first woman to get the position in the auto industry.
Suryadevara, 39, currently the vice-president, corporate finance, will succeed Chuck Stevens, the GM’s present CFO, on September 1, the company said in a statement.
Chennai-born Suryadevara will report to GM’s chief executive officer (CEO) Mary Barra, who has been head of the automaker since 2014 and the only woman to run an automobile company.
Barra and Suryadevara are the first women in their respective positions in the auto industry, as no other major global automaker has a female CEO, nor a CEO and a CFO who are both female.
GM will join a very short list of S&P 500 companies, including Hershey Co. and American Water Works Co., with women are serving as CEO and CFO.
In her role as vice-president, Corporate Finance, since July 2017, Suryadevara has been responsible for corporate financial planning, investor relations and special projects.
She played an integral role in some significant deals GM has made as it has restructured operations over the past several years, including the divestiture of its European arm Opel and the acquisition of self-driving vehicle startup Cruise, the statement said.
Earlier this month, she played a role in securing a $2.25 billion investment in GM Cruise by Japanese tech giant SoftBank Group Corp, and GM’s investment in San Francisco-based on-demand transportation company Lyft, it added.
Suryadevara served as CEO and chief investment officer for GM Asset Management from 2013 to 2017. In this capacity, she was responsible for the management of business and investment activities of GM’s $85 billion pension operations, the statement said.
She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Commerce from the University of Madras in the southern Indian town. She moved to the US at the age of 22 to pursue her MBA from Harvard University.
She worked at UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers before joining the Detroit-based GM in 2005 at the age of 25.
“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,” Barra said in a statement.
Stevens, 58, has been CFO at the largest US automaker since January 2014 and will retire in March next year as a more than 40-year veteran of the company.
He will remain with the company as an adviser until his retirement, the statement said.
Stevens 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.