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General Motors CFO Unexpectedly Departs to Take Role at Online Payment Startup Stripe

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【Summary】U.S. automaker General Motors has lost one of its top executives with Chief Financial Officer Dhivya Suryadevara unexpectedly departing the company. Suryadevara is leaving the Motor City for Silicon Valley, where she was named CFO of the online payments startup Stripe.

Derrick Smith    Aug 11, 2020 11:30 AM PT
General Motors CFO Unexpectedly Departs to Take Role at Online Payment Startup Stripe

U.S. automaker General Motors has lost one of its top executives with Chief Financial Officer Dhivya Suryadevara unexpectedly departing the company. 

Suryadevara is leaving the Motor City for Silicon Valley, where she was named CFO of the online payments startup Stripe. She was one of the one of the U.S. auto industry's youngest and highest-ranking executives. 

With Suryadevara serving as GM's CFO last year, the automaker reported revenue of $137 billion last year. Her compensation package at GM last year totaled $6.8 million.

Suryadevara joining GM two years ago was viewed as favorable with investors. But her rising status as a leading executive led to speculation that she would eventually leave her position at General Motors and take on a new role outside the auto industry, Reuters reported.

"Dhivya has been a transformational leader in her tenure as CFO," said Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors. "She has helped the company strengthen our balance sheet, improve our cost structure, focus on cash generation and drive the right investments for our future. We wish her every success."

GM named John Stapleton, currently the company's North American CFO, as acting global finance chief, effective Aug 15. Stapleton joined GM in 1990 and has held a series of finance roles in the company over the years.

In the interim, GM said it would conduct internal and external searches for a permanent successor to Suryadevara.

Suryadevara succeeded Chuck Stevens as GM's CFO in September 2018. Before that, she was vice president of corporate finance. She joined GM in 2004 as a senior financial analyst in the Treasurer's Office.

"I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given at GM," said Suryadevara. "While I look forward to a new opportunity that will allow me to apply my skills in a new sector, I have great confidence in GM's trajectory and future."

In Nov 2018, shortly after Suryadevara was named CFO, GM announced a massive restructuring effort to trim costs and make the company more efficient. At the time, GM sent buyout notices to 36,000 employees with more than twelve years of service, offering them a severance package. The move included discontinuing sedans which have fallen out of favor with U.S. car buyers and closing several assembly plants.

In March, GM announced it would invest up to $20 billion by 2025 in electrification, including new EV architecture development, battery cell development and investments in public EV charging infrastructure as its looks to gain ground on Tesla. 

Over the past several months, Tesla's stock has soared to record highs and the company has grown to become the world's most valuable automaker with a market cap surpassing $260 billion. GM's market cap is roughly $41 billion.

GM's next CFO faces a big challenge in turning things around at the automaker. GM's stock has fallen from $45 a share in 2017 to a low of $14.32 in March due to the impact of the global pandemic. Today its up 4%, reaching just over $29 a share.

However, GM's future outlook looks promising.

Last week, GM unveiled the Cadillac LYRIQ, a fully-electric SUV that represents the future of its luxury division Cadillac. GM is transforming Cadillac into an electric luxury brand to better compete with rivals Tesla, Audi, BMW and Ford's luxury division Lincoln, all of which are introducing new electric models.

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