GM chief executive officer Mary Barra recently announced that Dhivya Suryadevara will be appointed chief financial officer of the company on September 1. She will be replacing Chuck Stevens, who held the post for 40 years.
The 39-year-old Suryadevara is a Harvard Business School grad who joined GM in 2005 and currently works as a vice president of Corporate Finance. As Forbes reports, Suryadevara was deeply involved in recent moves the company made concerning its investment in Lyft and SoftBank’s investment in GM Cruise, among other things.
“Dhivya’s experience and leadership in several key roles throughout our financial operations position her well to build on the strong business results we’ve delivered over the last several years,” Barra said in a statement.
The India-born Suryadevara has both a bachelors and masters degree in finance from the University of Madras, which she attended before heading to Harvard. She has held a host of positions at GM over the last decade and, according to the auto giant, worked to achieve ratings upgrades from all three credit ratings agencies.
Since the news of Suryadevara’s upcoming promotion broke, several media outlets have noted how far Detroit is (both literally and figuratively) from where she grew up in Madras. “My dad passed away when I was very young, so it was my mother, sisters, and me,” Suryadevara told Real Simple two years ago. “My mom had to raise three children on her own, which is difficult to do anywhere, let alone in India.”
Despite the financial challenges her family faced, Suryadevara told the magazine that her mother was determined to ensure that all three of her daughters received an education. “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,” she recalled to the magazine. “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.”
A mother herself, Suryadevara divides her time between Detroit and New York, where her husband and daughter live. When her daughter was in elementary school Suryadevara recalled how she would research her executive mom.
“She Googles me sometimes and will say, ’Mommy, I found these links about you,’” she recalled. “When you ask her what she wants to do, she’ll tell you, ‘Whatever my mom does.’”
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