TODAY | December 11, 2013
>>> for the first time, a woman has been chosen to head a major u.s. auto maker . nbc's ann thompson shows us how mary might inspire others with her want to succeed.
>> reporter: she means business.
>> no more crappy cars.
>> reporter: 51 years old she is a gm lifer. she started as an intern graduating from the institute with a degree in electrical engineering .
>> she combines tremendous skills in business and in engineering with a down to earth approachable nature.
>> reporter: her climb up the corporate ladder included turns as an assembly plant manager, head of human resources and executive vice president of global product development .
>> i have been given the opportunity to do a lot of things that really challenge and gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership style. my skills.
>> reporter: she will be gm highwa's 5th ceo in five years. a time that saw them declare bankruptcy and get bailed out by the government and return to profitability but there's no shortages of challenges ahead.
>> he understands the nuts and bolts of the business and it all comes down to building the best cars and trucks that you can sell. she understands that's the priority and the goal.
>> reporter: born and raised in the detroit area , her appointment to gm's top george is giving female students at her high school a different road map .
>> she is coming from the same place i came from so i can do it too.
>> reporter: inspiring a new generation of car guys who are women. for today, ann thompson, nbc news new york.