Mary Barra Shows Willingness to Wield the Ax to Push GM Forward

Mary Barra has a vision for what the future of General Motors Co. will look like, and she’s not afraid to make tough decisions — and wield the axe — to get there.

Her move this week to close five plants and slash 14,000 jobs in North America — where GM currently earns most of its profits — is the most recent example in Barra’s four years as chief executive officer of her willingness to cut staff, vehicles and business areas that aren’t delivering decent returns.

She is taking much of the savings and plowing it into new technologies, such as electric and autonomous vehicles, betting GM’s future growth will come from selling rides in self-driving electric models, not building cars and trucks for emerging markets and finding new buyers in the U.S.