GM names first female finance chief
DETROIT -- General Motors CFO Chuck Stevens is retiring and will be succeeded by Dhivya Suryadevara, a 39-year-old Harvard Business School graduate who has been a fast-rising star in the company's financial operations, GM said Wednesday.
Suryadevara will take over as CFO on Sept. 1. Stevens, 58, who has been CFO since January 2014, will remain with the automaker as an adviser until March 2019.
Suryadevara, currently GM's vice president of corporate finance, will report to GM CEO Mary Barra. She will be the first female CFO for the automaker as well as one of its youngest. GM President Dan Ammann was appointed CFO at 38 in 2011.
"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.
Suryadevara joined GM in 2005. GM said she "played an integral role" in last year's sale of Opel to PSA Group, GM's acquisition of Cruise Automation, GM's $500 million investment in the ride-hailing company Lyft and a $2.25 billion investment in Cruise last month by SoftBank.
She was GM's treasurer from 2015 to 2017 and was responsible for the management of business and investment activities of GM's $85 billion pension operations as CEO and chief investment officer for GM Asset Management from 2013 to 2017.
In 2012, Suryadevara was part of a small team that cut about $29 billion from GM's pension burden by shifting some salaried retirees to a group annuity. "Nothing on that scale had been done before," Suryadevara told Automotive News in 2016. "We didn't really have a road map for how to structure and execute a deal like that."
Barra commended Stevens for his career at the automaker, citing his instrumental role in shaping the automaker's future business operations.
"Chuck has played a crucial role in driving profitable growth across the enterprise for the last several years, as well as being a vital part of the development and execution of all aspects of the core and future business strategies for the company," Barra said.
Prior to becoming CFO as part of Barra's new management team, Stevens was GM's CFO for North America from 2010 to 2014. He also served as interim CFO for GM South America from December 2011 to January 2013.
He has served in leadership positions in China, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. He began his GM career at the Buick Motor Division in 1978.
Suryadevara, a native of India who was born the year after Stevens began his GM career, was named an Automotive News Rising Star in 2016 and a Crain's Detroit Business "40 Under 40" honoree last year.
Suryadevara attended college in India and moved to the U.S. at age 22 to attend Harvard. She had never been to the U.S. before and wasn’t sure what kind of career she wanted at the time.
“It’s not like I said, ‘I want to work for a large automotive company.’ What I did know is that I liked anything challenging and complicated,” she said in a 2016 interview with Real Simple magazine.
After graduating, Suryadevara took a job with the investment bank UBS so she could start paying back her student loans, working there for about a year before GM hired her at age 25.
She has been commuting between Detroit and New York, where her husband and daughter live.