Barra, who currently serves as executive vice president of global product development, will be the auto maker's first female CEO. The executive shuffle comes immediately after the Treasury announced that the U.S. government sold its final stake in the automaker, which had to be rescued at the height of the global financial crisis.
At the time, Akerson had joined the board of the largest U.S. automaker, and ascended to the top job in 2010. Barra is a 33-year veteran of GM, and has held roles in engineering and assembly. Given her pedigree with the automaker, her ascension was widely anticipated by GM watchers.