tv The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations Bloomberg May 20, 2017 9:00am-9:31am EDT
♪ david: do you get tired of people asking you what it feels like to be a woman c.e.o.? mary: it a question that gets asked more than it should. david: do your children treat you with more respect? mary: my son reminded me last mother's day that your most important job is mom. david: the government put money into general motors. did the government get its money back? mary: we will be forever grateful for what the government did. david: your board of directors -- [indiscernible] mary: if it is from general motors, i think yes. david: people would not recognize me [indiscernible] let's leave it this way. ♪
david: i don't consider myself a generalist. -- journalist. nobody else would consider myself a journalist. i began to take on the life of being an interviewer even though i have a day job of running a firm. how do you define leadership? somebodyt that makes effective? do you get tired of people asking you what it feels like to be a woman c.e.o. of any company? mary: i think i was surprised by it. when people started asking, it was a reflection on the auto industry and what people thought of the auto industry. i had grown up in it. frankly, i would not be sitting here today if the chairman and noto. 20 years ago had taken chances on developing me. now if i can be a role model for other young girls to pursue engineering careers or math and science, that is a good thing.
it is a question that gets asked probably more than it should. david: when you joined general motors at 18, did you expect you could rise up to be the c.e.o. at that time? mary: i had no vision it was something i could achieve. i was studying engineering and loved it. i was looking to pursue a career in engineering. i have had wonderful opportunities in my career to work in so many different areas with great mentors, so i feel fortunate. david: when you were announced as c.e.o., did you hear from high school classmates who always knew that you were terrific? do you find people laughing at your jokes more? what happened after you became c.e.o.? mary: i don't think i had any high school classmates that said we knew this was going to happen. but i have to say there was outrage from people i had not met or talked to in a while that were very positive. it was heartwarming all the positive messages i got from
people in my past. children treat you with more respect before or after you got to be c.e.o.? mary: my son very aptly reminded me last mother's day that your most important job is long. --mom. david: today, what are the most important challenges you face in running the company? mary: right now, the auto industry, we are seeing more change we have seen than in the last 50 years. think about the cars you drive now and rewind 10 years ago. think about what you do in your car. you want your smart phone connected. you have safety features all around you. we are working on autonomous. you are driving electric vehicles or have the option to. when we look at how the industry is being transformed, we are changing the way people will get from point a to b. it is a very exciting time. we are moving at a rapid pace because we are competing with silicon valley. david: let's talk about autonomous cars.
autonomous is a euphemism for driverless cars. people don't like to say driverless because it scares people? no. have you been in a driverless car? has your board of directors let you go in a driverless car? [laughter] mary: if it is from general motors, i think, yes. i have written in one of our vehicles. we have test vehicles. they do have a safety trainer in the vehicle. but i have riden in the cars in san francisco. it is astonishing to see what the cars are able to do. we are seeing progress on almost a weekly basis. david: did you put your foot on the brake to stop it or get away from doing that? is a trained it response. frankly, it is so smooth. here is one example riding in the autonomous vehicle. you come to an intersection and
the light is yellow. you have to make a decision to pick up the pace or come to a stop. an autonomous vehicle has sensed exactly when the light turned , knows if can maintain speed and go, or stop. that is one of the benefits of autonomous vehicles. they are processing all the information around them more safely, if done right, then we can as drivers, all the different things we are taking in. david: another phrase lately is ridesharing. what is ridesharing? ridesharing is similar to a cab. you are looking to get a ride from someone. he will do ridesharing versus car sharing. you will have use of a car whether a day or a month. we have a stake in lyft where we are ridges meeting in ridesharing. we have our own company, raven, doing car sharing. david: you drive the car for a
short time and give it back to somebody? mary: in ann arbor, we have cars stationed. you go online and reserve it the app to return it. you can drop it off in a different place. david: if everyone is using ridesharing or pressuring, will they fewer cars sold? is that a good thing for general motors? mary: think about people who cannot drive right now, whether you have some physical limitation that does not allow you to drive a vehicle. we think we will open up to a lot of people who cannot drive to have the freedom of mobility they don't have today. traveled inles are those vehicles. david: you sold roughly 10 million cars last year.
are solda lot of cars because gasoline prices are low and people are buying big cars and not worried about the cost of gasoline. is that your experience, the people are buying cars because gasoline prices are low? if gasoline prices cannot, do you think there will be a problem in car sales? are seeing a shift across the globe of people moving to s.u.v.'s and trucks from a functionality perspective. we are already seeing that shift. havetrucks and crossovers become much more fuel-efficient. we believe in having a wide portfolio. what we see now with low gas prices is people are going into an upper-level model of a vehicle or one size bigger, so they definitely are investing the money they are saving from gas savings into the vehicle. that is one of the reasons we have a full range of product what the customer wants. david: when people going to buy cars, and are the decision-makers?
is it the woman or man in the relationship who makes the decision? mary: over 80% of purchase decisions are made or influenced by women. david: when people buy a car and the salesman goes back and says i have to talk to my manager to see whether i can do this, do they really talk to their manager? [laughter] [applause] all, there are several dealers in the room so i hope i get this right. no. our dealers are independent operators, so they have the ultimate control on what price they sell a vehicle for. david: everything has all the options now. are there still some options that are optional that you can add on? mary: we are creating options every day. it ising we just put out, not an option but one of the most recent additions we put teenour vehicles, a driver package. it is a package where you can
monitor how the child is driving from a speed but also acceleration/deceleration, so you can get a sense of how safely your teen is driving. off?: what if that goes -- what age does it go to? 21, 22, 25? mary: it is about who owns the car. david: some people are texting and driving. is there not an option we can keep people from texting if they are driving? mary: you are right. distracted driving i believe is now surpassing is the most common cause of injuries. very disturbingly in the last year, fatalities in the united states have been going down and are now starting to go up. distracted driving is a big he said it -- big piece of it. i think we need to educate the that the message can
wait. there are things we have done to integrate. a voice can read your text. it can be on the main screen on the consul of the vehicle. when you are holding your phone looking down, that is one of the worst things you can do. we are trying to put technologies in place to make it better. distracted driving is a real issue. i think we all need to take responsibly to address it. david: you are a member of the president's business advisory council. at the first meeting, you were sitting next to him. what is donald trump like? mary: it was a very productive meeting. we could share our views. ♪
do you test out ford or mercedes-benz? mary: actually, i do. i usually drive competitor models at our proving ground. newmely go to test a vehicle, we like to line up against the competition and know how we are performing. the head of product development does that every friday afternoon with a team of engineers. they test vehicles and drive against the competition. i've had the opportunity to do that. right now, i'm driving a cadillac xp5. jobof the best parts of the is i can ask for any car i like. david: you are around michigan on a weekend and need gas. do you pump it yourself? mary: absolutely. david: does anybody say you are the c.e.o. of general motors and should not be pumping your own gas? mary: it is self-serve so it is between you and the pump and the credit card. [laughter] david: if there are any of your competitors' models you
recommend? mary: i think that is a really important question. maybe it is because i ran ,roduct development for a while i really feel we have worked hard to have a vehicle for every segment. we have worked hard to improve quality and have the right features. i guess i can only say -- honestly say against our wide portfolio of vehicles, we have you covered. i said that in all sincerity. i feel we have worked hard to do the right thing for the customer and have the right vehicle. david: if i said i want to buy a general motors car today and have $50,000, what would you recommend? mary: a lot of vehicles you can buy for $50,000. david: $30,000? afteryou can buy the bolt a federal incentive for under $30,000. you can get the entry-level camaro if you have a need for speed. or the gmc canyon or the
chevrolet colorado midsize pickup truck. these are all products that have won a lot of awards and are great depending on your use. david: suppose i just want to go fast. what is your fastest car? mary: the corvette. although, the latest edition of the camaro is giving it a run for its money. either one. president trump: i thought we might go around the room. david: you are a member of the president's advisory council. the first meeting, it were seated next to him. what is donald trump like? mary: we had a very productive meeting. we were able to really talk about some of the issues and challenges our industry and company is facing, especially as we look at changes that may occur in tax, trade, and regulatory. i would say it was a very productive meeting where we can share our views. the administration and the
president really listened. it is early days but seemed to be very action-oriented. david: your business is very profitable in the united states. not as profitable in europe and latin america but very profitable in china. why are you so successful in china? the manufacture the cars they are? mary: yes, we manufacture several cars there. it is a very strong brand. it had a rich history in china of driving some of the chinese officials around back in the 1920's and 30's. a great brand. we have been able to grow the chevrolet brand and cadillac. cadillac is one of the fastest-growing luxury brands. we build many of the products in-country here. david: general motors used to have more brands, pontiac, oldsmobile. now you have chevrolet, cadillac, buick, and gmc. are those the main ones in the united states? mary: if. -- yes. david: cadillac is your premium, right? in also makes the presidential limousine which is bombproof.
what is it like? mary: i cannot comment. [laughter] david: i guess the average person could not afford to buy something like that. probably not. motors but itral was a dominant company in the united states. and it went south. what was the atmosphere like working there? mary: clearly, it was difficult. across the globe, we have 220,000 people. restructuring was primarily a north american event. that is 100,000 people we employ today. it was a difficult time. that is where you saw the result. one thing i think is especially general motors is the minute women of general motors. they worked so hard doing in a short time what needed to be done to get the restructuring completed. david: government put some money into general motors. did the government get its money back at some point over the years? mary: there are a couple of points.
there was a portion of what the government provided that was loans and then they had some ownership and stock. we paid back the loans. stock piece, they chose when to sell it. i would also say there is a difference. when you look at the jobs preserved and created, because we have invested billions in the u.s. since that time to create or maintain jobs, i think from that perspective it has been successful. i will tell you a general motors we will be forever grateful for what the government did. david: you meet with members of congress, do they understand your issues? mary: there is a willingness to have a discussion and seek to understand how we create jobs and what leads to success. david: to the adversary, can you -- do they ever say, can you get me a discount on a general motors car? mary: we cannot do that. ♪
culture, looking at the right capacity. that was work going. due to great leaders, in my predecessors at the table, they put focus on the company of excellence and putting the customer at the center. we said we do not win until the customer says we win. the customer focused piece in deciding what we could be good at and what we should be doing, that kind of focus and discipline has guided us since that time. david: your workforce is largely unionized in the united states. you are competing against companies in the united states that often are not unionized. is there a big differential now between unionized and non-unionized compensation? mary: there is still a gap. that is something we continue to work on. i would say the focus with our u.a.w. partners, and we have a productive relationship working together focused on safety and productivity. david: you meet with congress.
to they understand your issues? mary: there is a willingness to have a discussion and seek to understand. her has not been a single member of government i have met that has not wanted to understand how are our business operates and how we create jobs. david: do they ever say, can you get me a discount? mary: we cannot do that. david: what about for people interviewing you? [laughter] mary: if you are not a government employee, i think we can work something out. david: corporate tax performance we talked about. corporate tax rates are going down. how would you propose the president and congress for that? mary: we are in support of corporate tax reform. there are a lot of moving pieces. is not done thoughtfully, it can be problematic. it would take time to make adjustments to that. what we are asking for is, we
support tax reform, but it has to be done in a way that does not have unintended consequences and understand businesses like the auto industry better capital intensive --that are capital intensive. david: when you deal with members of commerce, are you promoting any particular project now? mary: one of the areas is the regulatory area. we are very committed to the environment. we have made a pledge that by 2050, we will use all renewable energy. we believe in the science. very pro-education. one of the things the company works hard on is safety education and economic development in the regions where we work. from an education perspective, and i reside in southeast michigan so the choice is a big concern, the education system, i think there are things we can do, government, state, local, and federal government working together to improve the education system. david: if somebody graduates from college now, why should he
or she want to work in the automobile industry or specifically at general motors? why it is it a great career path? mary: it is the most exciting time ever. it is usually the most important second most important purchase a person makes a net life. to get to be part of that, people name their cars. it is an exciting thing to be part of. the fact we are being transformed by technology with connectivity, which we have a leadership role in, electrification, autonomous, all areas where general motors is among the leaders or leading, it is a very exciting time. david: are there many other women likely to become c.e.o.'s or senior executives in the automobile industry or is it relatively rare? mary: i cannot speak outside of general motors. i would say we have women leading major areas of corporations. our head of global manufacturing, are ahead of all electric products, our head of tax, there are many areas across
the company where women are leading. that is a commitment we have to diversity. you have to have a strong pipeline. is because i sit here now does not mean without continued focus on diversity and understanding bias, we all have biases so we have to understand his biases. that is something we spent quite a bit of time on as general motors. david: you have 220,000 employees. do you tweet to keep them informed on what you are thinking? mary: i have a facebook account and a twitter account. i have found, for those of you wanting to communicate with your organization, i have found it to be an extremely effective way to communicate and share what is going on and also interact with employees doing great things and capture that on my facebook or twitter account. i find it a very effective way to communicate. david: you have been sealed for a relatively short period of time. at some point, c.e.o.'s to retire, that is what they say.
what would you want to do afterwards? would you go into government? if the president called you, would you go in? mary: i would not. i have a job to do hopefully for many years. i serve at the pleasure of the board. i'm excited about the technologies we are working on. i would say when i am done doing that, i will probably focus on [indiscernible] [laughter] david: the three main companies in detroit manufacturing automobiles, chrysler, ford, and general motors, do you run into the other c.e.o.'s often in michigan or in the shopping centers? mary: not in the shopping centers. i might have a different shopping pattern than they do. [laughter] mary: i like to shop. i would say at events, clearly at events, whether it is the detroit grand prix were a meeting such as this. often, we will be in the same place. david: for relaxation, other
than retail therapy, what do you do? are you a golfer? do you ski? what do you do? mary: at this point, a lot of my free time has been dedicated to going to my children sports. hockey, soccer, cross-country, football. i am a hockey mom and a soccer mom. i have watched a lot of sports. is that chapter ends, i'm starting to take off lessons. that is probably all i have time for now. david: i would suggest miniature golf. it is less frustrating. mary: i like that. david: when you are watching your kids sports, do you tweet to get things done? d.o.e. mail while you are watching them? mary: when they are on the field, i'm watching. if they are not playing, i am probably on my phone. ♪
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