Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mary Barra, GM, and The Gang of Seven

While still the Editor in Chief of Automobile Magazine, Jean Jennings put together The Group of Seven - women from all over the USofA with an interest in cars and things automotive.  She hosted us at the Detroit Auto Show in February, 2013, and we fell in love.... with the cars, the experience, and each other.  The group hug at the end of the evening was one of the all time great ones.

I missed the second gathering while tending to G'ma and her broken leg.  A third gathering never happened; Jean lost her gig at the magazine, worked on television, and is now enjoying life and planning her next step.  The rest of us have kept in touch, sporadically.  We've hoped for fast cars on a track and road trips in vintage convertibles (or that new Corvette) but we're still waiting.

I have managed to maintain a relationship over time and distance and absence, though, with Anna Eby, who's perfect for Big Cuter in every way except that she is geographically inappropriate and doesn't own a television. We're Facebook buddies.  We started Project Keychain to support Saudi women in their struggle to drive.  I donated to her cause and she raised enough to rappel down the tallest building in Austin.... without her signature high heels.  She's one of those happy accidents which brighten my life.

Anna writes a car-centric blog.  Motorista is photo filled and light-hearted.  There may be more about racing than interests you, but her style is delightful and her attitude nearly matches mine.  This week, she took on Matt Lauer's interview with Mary Barra, the CEO of GM. She wrote about it before, chastising Lauer for wondering if Barra could be effective both as an executive and as a mother of two.  This new post, though, posits real questions to Ms Barra, questions about the future of GM, the handling of the recall, her vision for the industry, and a nuanced query about being a woman in a man's world. 

I was intrigued.  I'm all about questionnaires these days.  I wondered what the answers might be, and, having a free morning, I tried to pass them up the food chain to Ms Barra herself.

That proved to be impossible. 

The GM website is, as expected, all about product.  I can contact product specialists, I can complain about an issue, I can learn about innovations, I can read biographies of corporate executives, but if I want to communicate I am stuck.  There's a land address and a phone number, but no one to give me an email address. 

In a 21st century world, I find that hard to fathom. Ford has an email form that pops up when you search Contact Ford.  Honda's contact page follows GM's path; there are land addresses and phone numbers but no way to send anything electronically.  Loews's Hotels (I'm planning an October getaway so I was on the site anyway) doesn't give out emails, either.  Perhaps I am setting my expectations too high?

I went back to and tried the chat service.  At 9am Pacific Time, this is what I found:
Thank you for visiting Our chat services are currently unavailable. Please try back anytime M-F 8am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm, and Sun 12pm-9pm ET.
At noon, I found Louis on the chat line.  "Is there a way to send Mary Barra an email?" I wondered.

"Thank you for contacting us today! I'm sorry, there is not a way to email Mrs. Barra directly," was his reply.

After studying the MRS. for a while, and smiling as I did so, I came back to The Burrow to figure out how I feel about the whole thing.  My fingers are confused. It's a big company, with lots of employees and customers and suppliers.  The line must be drawn somewhere.  I just wish I could find an entrĂ©e so that Mrs. Barra could respond to Anna's line of inquiry.

It would be so much more informative than knowing that she can work and parent at the same time.

1 comment:

  1. Tisk, tisk on GM. A good Web site always has a contact form--otherwise, they appear to be closed off. I was majorly perturbed with Lauer's questions. He wouldn't dare ask that question of a man. I'll have to check out Anna's blog.

    Try this site for ways to find Barra's Email address. :

    Hope you are having a great day.

    Megan xxx


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