Mary Barra, the chief executive officer of General Motors, is the first female CEO of the automaker, and an important figure in the automotive industry. In 2024, Mary Barra’s net worth most likely exceeds $250 million thanks to her high salary and smart investments.

With extensive experience in the industry and an amazing track record of success, Barra has steered General Motors through many transformations over the years. To date, she remains the company’s CEO but also holds a spot on several boards in different companies.

Let’s take a closer look at what made her so wealthy.

Mary Barra’s Net Worth Breakdown:

Mary Barra’s wealth comes from numerous sources. For the most part, her fortune is made of her compensation as CEO of General Motors, which, according to the average and our calculations, most likely adds up to at least $200 million since 2014. On top of that, Barra owns quite a few General Motors shares, which are worth millions today, too.

Not to mention, she earns hefty sums from her board membership, being part of several boards and councils these days.

Using all the information at our disposal, we created a breakdown of the main assets that make Barra so wealthy. Her estimated net worth most likely exceeds $250 million these days. Here is how it breaks down:

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Average compensation at GM (2014 – today) $20-30 million annually
GM stock holdings 1.1+ million units worth ~$50 million
General Dynamics stock holdings 6,356 units worth $2 million
Disney board member salary $125k annual base salary
Total Net Worth $250+ million

Mary Barra Net Worth: Early Life and Education

Mary Barra was born Mary Teresa Makela on December 24, 1961, in Royal Oak, Michigan. Her family has Finnish roots, which is why Barra speaks a bit of the language. Her grandfather moved to the US and married a Finnish immigrant from Teuva, and they lived in Mountain Iron in Minnesota, where they raised three children, including Barra’s father, Ray. Ray married Eva Pyykkonen, Barra’s mother.

Mary Barra was destined for greatness at GM from a young age and spent most of her life with the company. She studied electrical engineering at the General Motors Institute, now Kettering University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in 1985.

Following this academic success, Mary Barra got a GM fellowship to study for her Master of Business Administration degree at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She obtained this degree in 1990.

Young Mary Makela was an exceptional student. She was inducted into the honor society for engineering students, Tau Beta Pi, and the honor society IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu while at university.

Today, Barra is married to Tony Barra, a consultant she met at the university, and they have two children together.

Mary Barra Net Worth: Climbing GM’s Corporate Ladder

Barra’s path toward fame and fortune wasn’t easy – or fast. She is the perfect example of how hard work over time pays off. It took her years to land the highest position in the company and become GM’s CEO. Let’s see how she achieved this success.

Barra’s Career at General Motors

Barra started working at General Motors as a co-op student, inspecting hoods and checking fender panels at just 18 years old. She used this job to pay for college and subsequently held several engineering and administrative positions, such as managing the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant.

She was exceptional at her job, so in 2008, having spent years with GM, Barra was promoted to vice president of Global Manufacturing Engineering. A year later, she moved up the ranks again and became the vice president of Global Human Resources, a position she retained until 2011.

Mary Barra
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In February 2011, the automaker promoted her to the position of executive vice president of Global Product Development, giving her more responsibilities in designing automobile platforms and reducing their number in General Motors (GM).

It didn’t take long for her to land yet another promotion and in 2013, the company extended her responsibilities to the Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.

In January 2014, after nearly 35 years at the company, she finally reached the pinnacle of her career at the company. General Motors promoted her from senior vice president to the chief executive officer of the firm, making her the first female CEO of a Big Three automobile manufacturer. She succeeded Daniel Akerson in the role.

Mary Barra and a man
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Mary Barra as the CEO of General Motors

Mary Barra’s early days at the helm of General Motors weren’t easy. During her first year holding this position, the company came under scrutiny for 84 safety recalls and numerous deaths that were a result of faulty ignition switches.

Eventually, this led to the creation of new safety policies within the firm and since then, the CEO has focused greatly on driving the business into EV technology. The company acquired several businesses for this purpose, including a startup in driverless technology called Strobe.

Despite the challenges, the first female CEO led GM to achieve record global sales for the company within a year, cementing her status as a respected chief executive officer in the industry.

The company faced another challenging period in 2018 when Barra announced that she would be closing five plants in North America and laying off 14,000 workers, a move that was criticized by many, including President Donald Trump.

“I am not happy,” said Trump, referring to the decision. “You know, the United States saved General Motors. For her to take that company out of Ohio is not good. I think she is going to put something back in soon.”

Mary Barra and Donald Trump
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Salary and Total Compensation at General Motors

By 2017, three years after she was placed in the CEO role, Barra was the highest-paid executive at the Detroit Three, beating out Ford CEO Jim Farley. She received a total compensation of $21.96 million that same year.

Barra’s base salary at the company is around $2 million, but on average, she receives a compensation of at least $20 million per year. In 2021, for instance, her compensation rose to $29,136,780, while in 2022, she was paid a total of $28,979,579.

In terms of GM stock, she reportedly owns over 1.1 million units. This is equivalent to around 0.082% of the total GM stock but the stake is still worth well over $47 million.

Awards and Honorable Mentions

Mary Barra is a major name in the automotive industry, and as such, she has received numerous awards and honorable mentions over the years, including:

  • 2013: Listed on Forbes Most Powerful Women list in the 35th spot
  • 2014: Received an honorary degree from the University of Michigan when she delivered the commencement address for the Ann Arbor campus
  • 2014: Featured on the cover of Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World
Mary Barra Time magazine
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  • 2015: Ranked first in Fortune’s Most Powerful Women List (remained in the spot in 2017)
  • 2015: Ranked the first of five top women entrepreneurs by Business2Community
  • 2018: Listed on Forbes Most Powerful Women list in the 4th spot
  • 2018: Received an honorary doctorate from Duke University
  • 2018: Elected to the National Academy of Engineering
  • 2018: Awarded the Legend In Leadership Award by the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute
  • 2023: Honored at the 2023 Arthur W. Page Center Awards and received a Larry Foster Award for Integrity in Public Communication
  • 2023: Inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame
Mary Barra
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Mary Barra Net Worth: Other Assets and Income Sources

For the most part, Mary Barra’s wealth comes from her stake, salary, compensation, and dividends at General Motors. However, she is also a member of several boards and has holdings in more than one company.

Boards and Councils

Barra is the chair of Business Roundtable, the group of America’s most powerful CEOs. She was also a member of the General Dynamics Corp. board of directors and serves on the board of the Detroit Country Day School and the Detroit Economic Club.

headline about Mary Barra
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In addition to this, Barra is a member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council, the Duke University Board of Trustees, and the Stanford University Board of Trustees.

As of 2017, she was elected to the board of directors for the Walt Disney Company, making her the fourth woman on the board and the 12th person elected on it. The base salary for the board of directors at this company is $125,000 per year.

Mary Barra discussed on cnbc
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Finally, in 2022, she was appointed to the Homeland Security Advisory Council by Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Stake in Businesses

While Mary Barra generally keeps her investment decisions private, we know that she owns stock in at least two companies. The first is her stock ownership of General Motors, as discussed previously. In addition to this, she owns 6,356 shares of General Dynamics as of 2017, valued at around $2 million.

Real Estate

Mary Barra rarely discloses details about her personal life, but we do know that she resides in Northville, Michigan, a Detroit suburb, though we don’t know the value of her property.

What Can We Learn from Mary Barra’s Story?

Barra’s journey is truly impressive. Her story at General Motors began thanks to her training, hard work, and dedication to the industry she selected. As the first female chief executive officer of the automotive giant, Barra has shattered glass ceilings over the years and left a special mark on the industry.

Her ascent to the top of General Motors wasn’t swift. It was a culmination of years of hard work mixed with exceptional performance and strategic vision. Starting as a co-op student inspecting hoods, she steadily climbed the corporate ladder, holding various positions before assuming key executive roles within the company.

Her ability to drive innovation propelled her through the ranks, ultimately leading to her appointment as CEO in 2014. This shows us that hard work and passion can help anyone achieve new heights and beat the barriers in the business world.

Beyond her role at the company, Barra’s influence extends to various boards and councils where her leadership is highly valued. She continues to shape conversations and drive change on a broader scale thanks to these positions.