GM head of global manufacturing awarded Black Engineer of the Year

General Motors Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing Gerald Johnson has been honored with the BEYA STEM 2021 Conference’s Black Engineer of the Year. Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors

General Motors Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing Gerald Johnson has been recognized by the BEYA STEM 2021 Conference with its top honor of Black Engineer of the Year.

“For 35 years, the BEYA STEM Conference mission has been focused on opening doors of opportunity for future STEM professionals,” said BEYA Chairman Tyrone Taborn, who is also CEO of Career Communications Group and publisher of the US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine. “A big part of that is acknowledging dynamic leaders like Johnson who show up and deliver in their positions, while continuing to pave a path toward a better future in STEM-related careers for Blacks and minority talent.”

In his position at GM, Johnson is responsible for quality and safety performance for 103,000 employees, representing more than 129 manufacturing facilities on five continents in 16 countries. Johnson also has been an integral part of GM’s COVID-19 response. When GM production was suspended at the beginning of the pandemic, Johnson and his team worked to quickly shift manufacturing and engineering resources to ventilators and mask production for frontline health workers. He also spearheaded the company’s safety protocols and return-to-work strategies to reopen the GM plants and other operations.

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“I am incredibly humbled to be named among the distinguished list of Black Engineer of the Year recipients,” Johnson said. “When I began my career, I didn’t set out to change the world. However, GM has afforded me amazing opportunities to lead innovation for our industry that is lifesaving and life-changing.”

Johnson began his career with GM 40 years ago as a co-op student at what is now known as Kettering University. At age 24, Johnson became the youngest superintendent in the history of the company’s Fisher Body Stamping Plant. He was also the first Black plant manager at Mansfield Plant Stamping Operations in 2002 and GM Europe’s first Black executive director of manufacturing in 2006. He serves as an inaugural member of GM’s Inclusion Advisory Board.

“Manufacturing has been Gerald’s passion since he was an 18-year-old co-op student, and he has dedicated his career to continuously improving how we build vehicles and components with the highest level of quality and efficiency,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. “His leadership and steadfast integrity have made General Motors a better company.”

General Motors has a couple of plants in the Southern Automotive Alliance readership area. GM makes Corvettes in its Bowling Green, Kentucky, plant and builds the GMC Acadia, Cadillac XT5 and XT6 at its Spring Hill, Tennessee, plant. In addition, it builds the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL at its Arlington, Texas, plant.


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