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Road to Power - How GM’s Barra Shattered Glass Ceiling: Excerpt

(Bloomberg) -- Detroit’s Eastern Market is in a gritty part of town where farmers have been coming to sell produce to urban families for more than a century. Though just a mile or so from General Motors Co.’s buttoned-down headquarters, these blocks could be on a different planet. Colorful graffiti-covered warehouses alternate with rows of early 1900s brick buildings that now hold cafes and restaurants. Today the country’s largest open-air market also draws bearded hipsters who are, slowly, bringing life to the formerly bankrupt city.

The symbolism of the place -- history and renewal -- isn’t lost on Mary Barra, who in January 2014 became the first woman to run GM. Instead of the chandeliered ballrooms of GM’s past confabulations, it was Eastern Market she chose as the site to meet with her top 300 global executives in September. In a rehabbed warehouse on Russell Street, not far from the Hamtramck auto-assembly plant she once ran, Barra drove home a message as unadorned as the surroundings: Get with the program, or get out.