America's Largest Automaker Has Its First Female CFO & She's An Indian

Dhivya Suryadevara was born and brought up in Chennai

Indian-origin woman Dhivya Suryadevara has become the first female Chief Finance Officer (CFO) of the largest automaker of United States, General Motors, a PTI report said.

39-year-old Suryadevara will succeed Chuck Stevens, GM’s present CFO, on September 1, the company said in a statement. Currently, the Chennai-born Indian-American is serving as the company’s vice president of corporate finance.

Once she takes over the responsibilities of CFO, Suryadevara will report to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mary Barra, 56, who has been head of the automaker since 2014.

Chevrolet Beat car at the General Motors workshop

Employees work on a Chevrolet Beat car at the General Motors workshop | Source: Reuters

Barra and Suryadevara are the first women to be positioned in the auto industry leadership, as no other major global automaker has a female CEO or CFO, the PTI report added.

A post-graduate from Madras University, Suryadevara moved to the US at the age of 22 to pursue her MBA from Harvard University. A chartered financial analyst and accountant, she worked at UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers before joining the Detroit-based General Motors in 2005 at the age of 25.

According to a report in The Real Simple, Suryadevara and her two sisters were raised by a single mother following her father’s death.

Dhivya Suryadevara

“I grew up and spent most of my childhood in Chennai, in south India. My dad passed away when I was very young, so it was my mother, sisters, and me. 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,” Suryadevara told the TRS during an interview.

“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.

Barra also congratulated Suryadevara on her success via her official Twitter handle:

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