4540 GM finance chief departs Suryadevara

GM finance chief departs Suryadevara

DETROIT — General Motors CFO Dhivya Suryadevara, who played key roles in the automaker”s selloff of Opel, purchase of Cruise Automation and 2018 restructuring plan, is quitting to take the top finance job at Stripe, a San Francisco online payments processor that has become one of the world’s most valuable tech startups.

John Stapleton, GM’s North American CFO, will replace Suryadevara on an acting basis while the automaker searches for a permanent successor.

“Dhivya has been a transformational leader in her tenure as CFO,” GM CEO Mary Barra said Tuesday in a statement. “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.”

Suryadevara, 41, became GM’s first female CFO in September 2018 after holding various roles in GM’s finance office and at GM Asset Management in New York since 2004. Suryadevara grew up in India and moved to the U.S. at age 22 to attend Harvard University.

GM announced a wide-ranging restructuring plan just two months after Suryadevara was named CFO. The strategy included slashing 15 percent of GM’s North American salaried jobs and ending production at five North American plants. GM recently said the plan, which aimed to cut $6 billion in expenses by the end of 2020, remains on track.

In 2019, Suryadevara added corporate strategy and development responsibilities to her duties. She was charged with making GM leaner and more agile amid the restructuring, a task that was further complicated by the 40-day UAW strike in fall 2019 and the coronavirus pandemic.

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To help weather the pandemic, in March GM pulled $16 billion from an existing credit lines, doubling its cash reserves. GM also suspended its quarterly common-stock dividend and share buybacks. Suryadevara last month said the company would be able to repay the $16 billion loans by year end if the economy continues to recover.

She recently outlined a simplification plan that includes building vehicles in fewer configurations and more parts sharing across brands and segments to cut costs long-term.

Rising star

Suryadevara earned her promotion to CFO by helping to orchestrate GM’s 2016 acquisition of Cruise, which is leading the company’s development of self-driving vehicle technology, and its 2017 sale of Opel to PSA Group. She also was involved in GM’s $500 million investment in Lyft and secured $5 billion in investments in Cruise by SoftBank and Honda Motor Co.

She helped GM to offload $29 billion in pension liabilities in 2012 and was named an Automotive News Rising Star in 2016.

“I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given at GM,” Suryadevara said in GM’s statement. “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 the GM’s trajectory and future.”

GM, in a regulatory filing, said Suryadevara submitted her resignation Aug. 6. Stapleton will assume her CFO duties Aug. 15.

Stapleton, 52, GM’s North American CFO since January 2014, has held a series of finance roles since joining GM in 1990.

Suryadevara’s resignation follows the departure of Barry Engle, president of GM North America, last month. Engle was replaced by Steve Carlisle, former president of Cadillac.

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Heading west

Suryadevara”s next stop, Stripe, is worth an estimated $36 billion. That compares with a $41 billion valuation for GM, despite having a fraction of the automaker”s revenue. Stripe was founded in 2010 and counts Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Zillow, Expedia, Uber and Lyft among its customers.

“I’m very excited to join Stripe at a pivotal time for the company. Stripe”s mission to increase the GDP of the internet is more important now than ever,” Suryadevara said in a statement issued by Stripe. “I really enjoy leading complex, large-scale businesses and I hope to use my skills to help accelerate Stripe”s already steep growth trajectory.”

Stripe has about 2,800 employees, having added more than 400 this year. Over the past year, the company has launched services in 15 countries across Latin America, Asia Pacific and Europe.

“Dhivya is a rare leader who has run an industry-leading leviathan but also gets excited about enabling the brand-new products and the yet-to-be invented products, too,” Stripe co-founder John Collison said in the company’s statement. “She has the expertise and the instincts to help steer Stripe through our growth in the years ahead.”

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