General motors in one of the very rare scenarios, paved ways for two women to be in CEO and CFO’s position. CEO of the Automobile giant is Mary Barra and the CFO being Dhivya Suryadevara, the first woman of Indian origin to hold the prominent position in a top-notch automobile firm and above all, in a male-dominated industry.
Dhivya spent her early days in Mandaveli, Chennai where she completed her schooling and undergrad. She graduated from St. John’s College, Chennai with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce and moved to the US for further studies. She obtained her Business Degree from Harvard University. Growing up, she never had it easy; she faced the hardships when she lost her father at an early age and how her mother had to meet their financial needs in raising three children single-handedly.
In an interview, she recalled, “My mom had to raise three children on her own, which is difficult to do anywhere, let alone in India. She wanted to make sure there were no corners cut when it came to our education and to prove that we could have the same resources as a two-parent household. Her high expectations made us want to do better, and we learned that nothing comes easy. You have to really work hard to get what you want.”
After obtaining her MBA from Harvard University, she began working for UBS, a Swiss multinational investment bank as an Investment banker. Her struggle was not over yet. She had to pay back her student loans. That was a different extent of pressure she faced. She moved to General Motors, Detroit, where she served various positions before being recognized as Vice President, Corporate Finance; for her crucial role in securing several deals when the company was dealing with a transition and restructuring of its operations.
According to a statement released by the General Motors, they said that Dhivya played an integral role in the Opel divestiture, Cruise acquisition, Lyft investment and more recently, SoftBank’s investment in GM Cruis.
A company which is not known for diversity, opening its arms for talented and creative leaders irrespective of gender, race is commendable.