The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Brittany Greeson for TIME
By Ginni Rometty
September 15, 2021 7:16 AM EDT

With fewer than 10% of Fortune 500 companies helmed by women, Mary Barra is a standout—and the most authentic leader I know. Starting as a line inspector at 18, she has spent her entire career at General Motors, ascending to the top post in 2014. One might think that more than four decades with the same employer—like her father before her—signals complacency, but Barra is orchestrating a major pivot at the 113-year-old automaker. A staunch believer in the science of climate change, Barra spearheaded GM’s commitment to sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2035 because, as she said, “it’s the right thing to do.” An agent of change, her power lies in empowering others. She urges women to go for it, knowing firsthand that too often they talk themselves out of opportunities simply because they don’t meet an expansive set of predetermined criteria. And she is a signatory of the OneTen coalition, which works to create systemic change that will expand economic opportunity for all. She offers simple advice to those whose voices are routinely drowned out by the cacophony around them: politely, but powerfully, say, “Let me finish.” Mary Barra is just getting started.

Rometty is the co-chair of OneTen and a former CEO and chair of IBM

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