tv The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations Bloomberg May 13, 2017 1:00pm-1:31pm EDT
♪ david: you get tired of people asking you what it feels like to be a woman ceo? mary: it's a question asked more than it should. david: does your children treat you with more respect? mary: my son reminded me last mother's day the most important job is mom. david:heovernment put some money in 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 let you go in a driverless car? [laughter] mary: if it is from general motors, i think yes. >> would you fix your tie, please? david: people wouldn't recognize me if my tie was fixed. let's leave it this way. all right. ♪
david: i don't consider myself a journalist. nobody else would consider myself a journalist. i began to take on the life of being an ierewer, even though i have a day job of running a private equity firm. how do you define leadership? what is it that makes somebody tick? do you get tired of people asking you what it feels like to be a woman ceo 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 have grown up in it and i would not be sitting here today if not 20 years ago people have d not taken chances on me to develop me. it was a bit surprising, but now if i can be a role model for other young girls to pursue engineering careers or pursue math and science, that's a good thing. it is a question asked more than it should.
david: when you joined general motors at the age of 18, did you expect to rise up, or any woman can rise up to be ceo at that time? mary: i think 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 this wonderful opportunity to work in so many different areas, great mentors. i feel very fortunate. : when you were announced as ceo, did you hear from high school classmate who told you they always knew you were terrific? did you get a lot of that? did you find people laughing at your jokes more? [laughter] mary: i don't think i have any high school classmates that said we knew this was going to happen, but there was an outreach 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.
david: did your children treat you with more respect after yo got to be ceo? mary: come on, they are kids. my son reminded me last mother's day your most important job is mom. david: today, as you look at general motors, what are the most important challenges you face in running the company? mary: the auto industry is seeing more changes than we have seen in the last 50 years. think about the cars you drive today and wi fe to ten years ago. think about what you do in your car. you want your smart phone connected. a lot of safety features all around you. we are working on autonomous. you are driving electric vehicles, or you have the option to. when we look at how the industry is being transformed, we are changing the ways people are going to get from point to point b. it's exciting but there is no -- we are moving at a rapid pace because we are competing with silicon valley. david: let's talk about autonomous cars.
nomous is ais - auto euphemism for driverless cars. people don't like to say 'driverless' because it scares people. [laughter] have you been in a driverless car? your board of directors let you go in a driverless car? [laughter] mary: if it is from general motors, i think yes. i have ridden in one of our vehicles. they do have a safety. it's called the trainer. i have ridden in the cars in san francisco. it is quite astonishing to see what these cars are able to do. we're seeing progress and also on a weekly basis. david: do you put your foot on the brakes to stop it or do you get away from doing that? mary: i do when i'm driving with my children. [laughter] riding, i shod y. it is kind of a trained response. it is so smooth. when you are riding in a vehicle and you come up to an intersection, you look up and the light is yellow. you have to make a decision. are you going to pick up the ce and go through or come to a
stop? the autonomous vehicle has sense of exactly when the light turns yellow, knows they can maintain speed or stop. that's one of the benefits of autonomous vehicles. they are processing all the information around tm tually more safely than we can as drivers with all the different things we are taking in. david: other phrases that come out. one is ridesharing. what is ridesharing? mary: when you are -- it is similar to a cab. you are looking to get a ride omomeone. ridesharing versus car sharing is you will have the use of the car, whether it is a day or an hour or a month. we are participating -- we have a stake in lyft. we are participating in ridesharing and we have our own company in 16 cities across the united states where we are doing car sharing.
david: you mean you drive the car for a short amount of time and then you get it back to somebody? mary: we have in the city of ann arbor,e ve cars stationed. you go online and reserve it. you use the app to unlock it and drive it. you can return it for now, we haveomservices we can drop it off in a different place. david: if everyone is using car sharing or ridesharing, will there be fewer cars sold? is that a good thing for general motors? mary: there have been a lot of studies about more cars were -- more cars or less cars. some people can't drive right now. whether you have some physical limitation that doesn't allow you to drive a vehicle. we will open up to a lot of people who can't drive or have the personal ability or freedom of mobility they don't have today. these vehicles in the sharing environments are driven much more frequently. many many more miles traveled. david: last year it was 10 million cars sold. some people say a lot of cars are being sold because gasoline
prices are low and there not -- and people are not worried about the cost of gasoline. is that your experience because people are buying cars because prices are low? if they go up, will there be a problem in car sales? mary: we're seeing a shift in u.s. and across the globe he of people moving from suvs and trucks from a functionality perspective. we are seeing the shift. in the last several years, trucks and crossovers, maybe not as efficient as a car, have become much more fuel-efficient. weelieve in having a wide portfolio. we are seeing low gas prices. and people are going into an upper level model of vehicle or maybe one size bigger. they defity are investing the money they are saving from the gas savings into the vehicle, but that's one of the reasons we have a full range of product lines. we will adjust to what the customer wants. david: when people go to buy a car, who are the real decision-makers? the woman or the man in the relationship?
[laughter] mary: we have data on this. over 80% of 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] mary: first of all, there are several dealers in the room so i have to get this right [laughter] no. our dealers are independent operators. they have the ultimate control on what price they sell a vehicle for. david: everything has all the options now. are still options that are optional? what are the biggest options? mary: we are creating options every day. one of the things we just put out, one of the most recent additions we put into our vehicles is teen driver package. it comes standard on the chevrolet malibu. it is a package where you can monitor a child's driving, and
also, the acceleration and deceleration. you can get a sense of how safely your teen is driving. i would also say -- david: what age does that go off? does it go to 21 or 22 or 25? [laughter] mary: it's really who owns the control of the account on the car. david: what about texting. some people are texting and driving. is there an option where you can keep people from driving if they are texting? mary: you are right. distracted driving is now surpassing as the most common cause of injuries. very disturbingly in the last year we have been -- fatalities in the u.s. have been going down and now they are starting to go up. i personally have not reviewed all the data, but distracted driving is a big piece of it. theres lot we can do, but we need to edatthe public. that message can wait. there are things we have done to integrate it.
a voice can comeveand read ur text. it can be on the main screen, on the console of the vehicle. when you are holding your phone and looking down, that's one of the worst things you can do. we are trying to put technology in a place to make it better. distracted driving is a real issue and we have to take responsibility. david: you are a member of the president's advisory council. you were seated right next to him. what is donald trump like? mary: it was a very productive meeting where we could share our views. ♪
what kind of car do you drive? do you drive a mercedes-benz? mary: i do. i usually drive competitor models that are proving ground. anytime we go out to to drive test one of our vehicles, we like to know how we are peorng. the head of product development does that evy iday afternoon with a team of engineers. they go out and test the vehicles against the competition. i've hadhepportunity to do that. right now i'm driving a cadillac. one of the best parts of this job as i can generally drive -- i can answer whatever car i like. [laughter] david: any color you want, too. you are driving around michigan and you need gas. do you go pump it yourself? mary: absolutely. david: does anybody say, you are the ceo, you shouldn't be pumping your own gas? mary: in michigan it is self-serve. between you and the pump. it isbetween you and the pump. [laughter] david: are there any competitor models you would recommend?
if someone said, i do not want to buy general motors, anything you would recommend or not really? mary: i think is an important question. maybe it's because i ran product development for a while. whether you're talking about a chevrolet spark or heavy-duty pickup or a cadillac escalade, i fe we have worked hard to have a vehicle for every segment. we work hard to improve quality, have the right features. i guess i can honestly say across our widespread portfolio of vehicles we have you covered. i mean that in all sincerity. i really feel we wo hd to do the right thing for the customer and have great vehicles. david: if i said, i want to buy a general motors car today and i have $50,000. what would you recommend i do? mary:. a lot of vehicles you can buy $50,000 david: $30,000? [laughter] mary: you can buy this one right here, bolt after federal incentives. you can get our entry-level maro if you have a need for speed. or the gmc canyon, or the colorado, the chevrolet colorado.
these are all products that have won a lot of awards and are great depending on what your use is. david: i just want to go fast. what is your fastest car? mary: the corvette. although now the camaro is giving it a run for its money. either one will surpass your needs. david: i thought we might go around the room. mary and -- >> i thought we might go around the room. mary and i met last week. david: you are a member of the president's advisory council. you were seated right next to him. what is donald trump like? ma: had a very productive meeting. it was very -- we were able to really talk about some of the issues and challenges in our industry and our company, especially as we look at changes that may occur in tax and trade in regulatory. it was a very productive meeting where we could share our views. the administration and the president really listened.
it is early days, but he seems to be very action oriented. david: your business is very profitable in united states, not as much eope but it is profitable in china. why are you so successful in china? do you manufacture cars there? mary: yes, but i think is back to the buick brand. in is a strong brand. it had a rich history in china of driving some of the chinese officials around back in the 1920's and 1930's. great brands. we beenblto grow the chevrolet brand and the cadillac. the cadillac is one of fastest-growing luxury brands. we build many of the products in country. david: you used to have pontiac -- have a lot more brands, pontiac that has gone away and oldsmobile. now you have chevrolet, cadillac, buick and gmc. are those the main ones in the united states? mary: yes. david: cadillac, that's your premium. right? it also makes the presidential limousine, which is like bombproof or something. ever been in that car to see
what it's like? or you cannot comment? mary: i can't comment. [laughter] david: i guess the average person cannot afford to buy some thing like that. probably not. [laughter] you joined general motors in it was a dominant company, then he went south for a while. what was the atmosphere like when you are working there? mary: it was very difficult. across the globe we had 220,000 people. the restructuring event was primarily in north america, but that was 100,000 people we employed today. it was a difficult time. that's when you saw the result. one of the things i think is so special that general motors is the men and women at general motors. they worked so hard during that period doing what needed to be done to get the restructuring completed. david: the government put money in a general motors. did the government get its money back in some form or another over the years? mary: we -- there was a portion of what the government provided that w lns.
they had some ownership in stock. we paid back the loans and the stock piece, they chose when to sell it. i would say there is a difference, but when you look at the jobs created because we invested billions of dollars in the u.s. since the time, from that perspective it has been successful. i will tell you that at general motors we will be forever grateful for what the government did. david: you meet with members of congress. do they understand the issues? mary: there is a willingness to understand how our business operates and create jobs. david: do they ever say can you give me a discount on a general motors car? mary: we can do that. david: what about people doing interviews? [laughter] ♪
the work that was going. through great leaders and my predecessors at the table here, really put a focus on the company of excellence in putting the customer at the center. what we said is we don't win until the customer says we win. and i think that customer focus ande and -- focus piece then deciding what we would be good at and what we shouldn't be doing, that focus and discipline has been with guided us since that time. david: your workforce is largely unionized in the united states, but you compete against companies that often are not unionized. is that right? is there a big differential now between unionized workforce compensation and nonunionized? mary: there is a bit of a gap in that and i think that is something we continually work on. the focus with the uaw partners, and we have a productive relationship of working together for workplace safety, quality and productivity. david: when you work with congress, do they understa
your issues or do they not understand your issues as much as you think they should? mary: there was a willingness to have a discussion. there has not been a single member of government that has not wanted to understand how her o business operates, how we crea js. david: do any say can you get a discount on a general motors car? mary: we can't for the government. david: what about people interviewing you? [laughter] mary: if not a government employee, i think we can work that out. [laughter] [applause] david: corporate tax reform has been talked about. are you in favor of tax rate s going down and how would you propose the president or congress pay for that? mary: we are in support of corporate tax reform. there is a lot of moving pieces. if not done very thoughtfully, it can be problematic. it would take a period of time to make adjustments to that. there is -- ate are asking for is we support tax reform, but it has to be done in a way that doesn't have unintended consequences.
and understand it is like the auto industry that are kept capital intensive industries. david: are you promoting any particular project right now? mary: one of the areas is in the regulatory area. we are very much committed to the environment. we are the only ones in a place that we made a pledge by 2050 will use all renewable energy. i would also say we are pro on education. one of the three things the company works hard in his safety, education and economic development in the regions where we work. from an education perspective, and i reside in southeast michigan so detroit is a big concern, the education system there. there are things we can do at 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? more specific general motors? miser the great career path? -- why is it a great career path? mary: it's like the most exciting time ever. when you look at crossovers, usually the most important were second-most important purchase a person makes in their life. to get to be a part of that. people name their cars. it's an exciting thing to be a part of. the fact we are being transformed by technology with condtity, which we have a leadership role in, electrification, autonomous. all areas where general motors is among the leaders are leading, it is a very exciti time. david: are there many other women likely to become ceos or executives in the automobile in industry or is it relatively rare? mary: i can't speak outside of general motors, but we have women leading major areas of the corporation. our head of global manufacturing, our head of the electric product, our head of tax. there are many areas across the
compy where women are leading. we have diversity and you have to have a strong pipeline. just bau i sit here now doesn't mean without continued focus on diversity and understanding biases, we all ha bses, and we need to understand those biases. that is something we spend a lot of time on at general motors. david: you have 220,000 employees. do you tweet to keep them informed? [laughter] mary: i have a facebook account and i do have a twitter account. 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's going on. and also interact with employees that are 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 ceo for a relatively short amount of time. at some point, ceos retire. when you do retire, what you want to do afterwards?
would you go into government? if the president said i want to be secretary of this for that, would you go? mary: i would not. i have a job to do for many years. hopefully serving at the pleasure of the board. i'm so excited abouthe technology we are working on. when i'm done doing that, i will probably focus on sleep. [laughter] david: the three main companies in detroit that are making automobiles, chrysler, ford, and general motors. do you run into the other ceos at shopping centers? mary: not so much at shopping centers. i might have a different shopping pattern than they do. i like to shop. at events. clearly at events. whether it's the detroit grand prix or a meeting such as this , often we will be in the same place. david: for relaxation, other than retail therapy, whadoou
do? are you a golfer? do you ski? mary: at this point a lot of my free time has been dedicated to going to my childrens' sports. hockey, soccer, cross-country, football. i'm a hockey mom and a soccer mom. i watch a lot of sports. as that chapter ends, i starting am to take golf lessons. that is probably all the time i have right now. david: i would suggest miniature golf. it is less frustrati. [laughter] mary: that is a good suggestion. david: when you're watching your kids' sports, do you tweet? are you emailing when you're watchi a they do not know while you are watching? mary: when they are on the field, i am watching. if they are not playing, i'm probably on my phone. ♪
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