Dhivya Suryadevara, the first Indian female CFO of General Motors

Dhivya Suryadevara, the first Indian female CFO of General Motors

Dhivya Suryadevara replaced Chuck Stevens on September 1, 2018 as chief financial officer of the No. 1 U.S. automaker - General Motors. General Motors in one of the very rare scenarios, paved ways for two women to be in CEO and CFO’s position. CEO of the Automobile giant is Mary Barra and the CFO being Dhivya Suryadevara, the first woman of Indian origin to hold the prominent position in a top-notch automobile firm and above all, in a male-dominated industry.

CEO of GM, Mary Barra said,
Dhivya’s experience and leadership in several key roles throughout our financial operations positions her well to build on the strong business results we’ve delivered over the last several years.”

Although Suryadevara never imagined going into the automotive industry, she revealed that she has always enjoyed anything “challenging and complicated.” That was the theme of her upbringing in Chennai, India. After her father passed away when Suryadevara was young, all parenting duties fell onto her mother.

Born on 14 April, 1980, Dhivya spent her early days in Mandaveli, Chennai where she completed her schooling and undergrad. Growing up, she never had it easy; she faced the hardships when she lost her father at an early age and how her mother had to meet their financial needs in raising three children single-handedly.

In an interview, Dhivya Suryadevara recalled,
“My mom had to raise three children on her own, which is difficult to do anywhere, let alone in India. She wanted to make sure there were no corners cut when it came to our education and to prove that we could have the same resources as a two-parent household. Her high expectations made us want to do better, and we learned that nothing comes easy. You have to really work hard to get what you want.”

Also Read: Successful Women Entrepreneurs in India [2020 Exhaustive List]

Dhivya Suryadevara's Education

She graduated from St. John’s College, Chennai with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. But her mother’s high expectations stayed with Suryadevara as she completed her bachelor’s and master’s degree in commerce at the University of Madras.

When she was 22, Suryadevara moved to the U.S. for the first time for further studies. She attended Harvard Business School where she obtained her Business Degree from Harvard University. After obtaining her MBA from Harvard University, she began working for UBS, a Swiss multinational investment bank as an Investment banker.

Her struggle was not over yet. She had to pay back her student loans. That was a different extent of pressure she faced.  She moved to General Motors, Detroit, where she served various positions before being recognized as Vice President, Corporate Finance; for her crucial role in securing several deals when the company was dealing with a transition and restructuring of its operations.

Dhivya's Corporate Journey

Dhivya Suryadevara has played an integral role in some significant deals GM has made as it has restructured operations over the past several years. It included the divestiture of the company's European arm Opel and the acquisition of self-driving vehicle startup Cruise. She played a role in securing a $2.25 billion investment in GM Cruise by Japanese tech giant SoftBank Group Corp.

In 2013, Dhivya Suryadevara became CEO and chief investment officer of GM Asset Management. While running GM’s $85 billion pension operations, she also took on the role as vice president of finance and treasurer in 2015, and split her time between New York and Detroit. In 2016, she was named Automotive News Rising Star and a Crain's Detroit Business 40 Under 40 winner last year.

During her 13 years with General Motors, Suryadevara helped achieve ratings upgrades from all three credit ratings agencies, completed $2 billion in notes issuance to fund discretionary pension contributions and upsized and renewed GM's $14.5 billion revolving credit facility. In July 2017, she was named vice president, corporate finance, a job that included overseeing investor relations, the company said.

Seeing her progress, General Motors announced in June, 2018, that 39-year-old vice president of corporate finance then, Dhivya Suryadevara, would replace current CFO Chuck Stevens, who has been working at the auto company longer than Suryadevara has been alive. Interestingly, Suryadevara was born the year after Stevens began his career in General Motors.

Also Read: Women Entrepreneurs on Why they Chose Entrepreneurship

Dhivya Suryadevara's Networth

The estimated Net Worth of Dhivya Suryadevara is at least  $8.39 Million dollars as of 1 April 2019. Suryadevara owns over 34,756 units of General Motors Co stock worth over $325,882 and over the last 2 years she sold GM stock worth over $1,299,874. In addition, she makes $6,767,560 as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President at General Motors Co.

According to a statement released by the General Motors, they said that Dhivya played an integral role in the Opel divestiture, Cruise acquisition, Lyft investment and more recently, SoftBank’s investment in GM Cruis. A company which is not known for diversity, opening its arms for talented and creative leaders irrespective of gender, race is commendable.

Must have tools for startups - Recommended by StartupTalky

Read more

Laurence Douglas Fink Success Story

Laurence D Fink: How This Man Built BlackRock and Transformed Investing

In the complicated world of finance, some exceptional leaders wield significant influence. Admired for their profound knowledge and strategic foresight, they serve as guiding beacons for businesses worldwide. That’s why, it becomes imperative to closely examine their life journeys and the paths they've taken, seeking valuable lessons and inspiration.

By Kanimozhi Sivakumar , Bhoraniya Huda Hifzur Rehman