- CompanyGeneral Motors
“Don’t let a good crisis go to waste” isn’t Mary Barra’s motto, but it might as well be. Taking the wheel of the automaker in the wake of its ignition-switch scandal only a few short years after its traumatic and humiliating cycle through bankruptcy, the GM lifer would have been seen as a success if she had helped the company merely survive. But Barra has done much more, taking decisive actions, such as pulling out of the Russian market and attempting a bit of corporate angioplasty to unclog GM’s famously sclerotic culture. The latter is a daunting challenge, but here’s one concrete sign of change: Fusty old GM beat Elon Musk’s Tesla to market with a budget-priced electric car. And in the meantime Barra has tripled profits, to $13.9 billion, in less than three years as CEO. Sure, the stock price has been stuck in neutral, but Barra has engineered a dramatic, seemingly improbable revival.