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GM Legend Alicia Boler-Davis Makes Pit Stop in Los Angeles

Alicia Boler Davis. Photo courtesy of GM

Alicia Boler Davis. Photo courtesy of GM

Nowadays, the majority of today’s consumers are women and the automobile industry hears their horns loud-and-clear. I recently met the Senior Vice President of General Motors Global Quality and Customer Experience, Alicia Boler-Davis during what was called “GM’s Diversity Legend’s Tour.” This meeting took place several weeks prior to the Los Angeles Auto Show, and Boler-Davis shared her 19-year rise through the company as GM’s highest ranking African-American female. As Senior VP of both Global Quality and Customer Experience, it’s Boler-Davis’ job to bridge the gap between consumers and the manufacturers. She does this by traveling the country; speaking to bloggers like me; collecting data from consumers; and ensuring that such information is driven back to the manufacturing plants.

“We’re moving the company in the right direction, and we’re transforming the company, probably focusing more on customers,” Boler-Davis explains. She adds, “And, we are really changing our behavior when it comes to our customers.” “The Chevrolet Sonic” is one example that’s designed for the 35-and under crowd, and with a remote start this vehicle is loaded with BringGo in-dash navigation app (hands-free function), Siri Eyes Free integration (compatible with iPhones) and TuneIn global radio, and OnStar. Prices begin at $14,495 (sedan), $15,395 (hatchback).

Chevrolet Sonic. Photo Courtesy of GM

Chevrolet Sonic. Photo Courtesy of GM

After receiving her engineering degree from Northwestern University, Boler-Davis has served in leadership positions at more than a dozen GM manufacturing plants throughout her career. “I felt that if I was going to work in an auto company, I needed to know what it takes to build cars,” the executive reflects. Boler-Davis helped re-launch the Lansing, Mich., factory. “We restarted the plant, which had major renovations. I was responsible for changing out the plant, updating the technology, engineering and making the plant capable of building smaller cars.” The Chevrolet Sonic is one of the models made in the Lansing plant. Boler-Davis says that GM is one of the top businesses with minority women in executive leadership positions.

“I know that I have a role as part of the 25 percent of female executives at this company compared to the 14 percent in the other Fortune 500 companies,” Boler-Davis remarks. “Whether you’re in Sales and Marketing, or whatever, GM gives you the opportunity to develop your skills and grow within the company,” the Senior VP says. However, Boler-Davis never envisioned herself working at the auto manufacturing company. The mid-forties executive describes herself as a “latch-key” child, who grew up in a single-parent home with multiple siblings in Detroit. This “fix-it” kid was a tinkerer, who looked forward to household projects that her mom assigned as punishment. “I knew I was going to be some kind of worker because I liked to fix things. I liked to accomplish things,” Boler-Davis explains.

When asked what she considers a possible weakness for women looking to climb the corporate ladder, the executive says many women don’t network enough with other women. “I think we don’t take advantage of networking with other women. I just don’t think we do enough of this. I don’t think that this comes to mind. While continuing to network with other women and families, Boler-Davis understands that economics is the main focus on everyone’s minds.

Driven by such consumers she says is why GM is introducing smart cars such as the “2014 Chevrolet Spark EV.” This pure electric mini car stores a 21-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and features a combined highway EPA-estimated range of 82 miles, and an EPA-estimated city/highway 119 MPGe. Offering three levels of charging (120V/240V/20-minute), including the 20-minute DC pack, the Chevy Spark EV is one of the most economical smart cars. Prices start at $27,495, but with appealing Calif., tax credits ranging from $0 to $7,500 and their tax situation, new prices may fall to $19,995!!

Boler-Davis says she is most proud of the superior way GM continues bouncing back from the recent setback of these past years. “Yes, we did take a hit and we had to be honest with ourselves about how and why,” says the motivational speaker. Many manufacturing plants under her watch have earned numerous awards. “I’m proud to say that while we have smart cars like the Spark, we’re still redesigning the Cadillac and the Escalade to make them even more fuel-efficient,” Boler-Davis says. And, I’m sure countless more families across America are also joyful.

Penny is an award-winning writer/editor with more than 20 years in the publishing industry. She is the mother of three girls; Shani (17), Samara (14), and Ananda (6). From taxiing kids to basketball games and ballet class; to hosting “Nacho Nights” and “Silly Slumber Parties”; to waiting with teen angst girls ’til midnight for the newest “Twilight” movie’; to singing and dancing at Children’s Musical Theatre shows; to digging up bones at the latest dinosaur exhibit; Penny carries the pen of a ready writer in one hand, while also holding Ananda’s hand in the other. Living in Los Angeles offers this SoCal mom an open canvas of opportunities to share her wondrous journeys.
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