Dhivya Suryadevara

Dhivya Suryadevara
VP, Corporate Finance
General Motors Company

Last Updated: 02/14/2018

Executive Summary

Dhivya Suryadevara has served as the Vice President of Corporate Finance at General Motors since July 2017. Most recently she was Vice President of Finance and Treasurer at the company. Suryadevara joined General Motors in 2004 as Senior Financial Analyst of Treasurer’s Office. Since then she held various positions within the company in the Asset Management division like Investment Analyst, Manager of Fixed Income, Manager of Multi-Asset Investment Strategies, Director of Investment Strategy. She also served as Chief Investment Officer and Chief Executive Officer of Asset Management Division. Prior to General Motors she served as Associate Director of UBS Investment Bank. She also held various positions in Assurance & Business Advisory Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers. A native of Chennai, India, Suryadevara earned a BA degree from the University of Madras and went on to earn a MCom from the University of Madras. She also received her MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Personal Attributes and Interests

  • In 2002 she was a summer intern at The World Bank.
  • She was one of the youngest Chief Investment Officers at General Motors Asset Management.
  • In 2015 she was nominated for Chief Investment Officer of the Year for the Investor Intelligence Awards by the Investor Intelligence Network.
  • According to a 2016 Automotive News article, "In 2012, Suryadevara was part of a small team that executed a unique transaction to slash about $29 billion from GM’s pension burden by shifting about some salaried retirees to a group annuity handled by Prudential Financial Inc. 'Nothing on that scale had been done before,' Suryadevara said. 'We didn’t really have a road map for how to structure and execute a deal like that.' She says it’s the complexity of those types of deals — and the auto industry in general — that steered her toward a career in the car business when many of her Harvard peers ended up in private equity, venture capital or entrepreneurial pursuits."
  • Suryadevara is a fitness fanatic.
  • She lives in New York with her husband and 10-year-old daughter.
  • According to an undated Real Simple article, "With two simultaneous jobs at General Motors, Dhivya Suryadevara over­sees funding for the automaker’s capital activities, banking relation­ships, and $80 billion pension plan. She com­mutes between New York City, where her home and family are, and Detroit." She told the publication:
    • "I grew up and spent most of my childhood in Chennai, in south India. My dad passed away when I was very young, so it was my mother, sisters, and me. My mom had to raise three children on her own, which is difficult to do anywhere, let alone in India. She wanted to make sure there were no corners cut when it came to our education and to prove that we could have the same resources as a two-parent household. Her high expectations made us want to do better, and we learned that nothing comes easy. You have to really work hard to get what you want."
    • "I went to college in India in the city where I grew up. I had a bachelor’s in com­merce, which is basically business. I wanted to get my M.B.A. from a top business program. I moved here when I was 22 to go to Harvard...I was very far from home, and there was definitely culture shock. At that time, Harvard Business School took people with a certain amount of work experience, and I had worked through undergrad but had come straight out of college...I didn’t have much money when I got here. My friends would take school trips, but that wasn’t an option for me. I was living on debt the whole time. Everything was funded with student loans that I had to pay back. In those circumstances, you’re under a different amount of pressure to find a job."
    • "I’m based in New York, and the team is in Detroit. My husband and [10-year-old] daughter are based in New York. Weekends, I’m there, and the weeks are dependent on what’s going on at any given time. I spend a lot of time going back and forth...It teaches you to be more efficient. When I’m in Detroit, I take more meetings and focus on work so that it’s easier for me to be with my family when I’m in New York. And I work while I travel. %u2028 I get hundreds of e-mails each day. I use my time on the plane to %u2028go through them."
    • "Exercise keeps me sane, especially boxing. It’s very therapeutic."
    • "We all spend way too much time in meetings. My meetings are on the shorter side. I encour­age different points of view. I like to ask, 'What are we missing?'"
    • "I tend to microman­age. As I’ve taken on more and more responsi­bil­ities, it has become more about where do I want to extricate myself and say others will do this versus me?"
    • "I don’t have a silver bullet for balance, but I try to make the most of every week, recog­niz­ing that there will be some weeks that are hard."

Current Focus

  • Current role: Suryadevara "essentially oversees GM’s balance sheet, including capital planning, capital market activities and worldwide banking, while still managing the pensions," according to a 2016 Automotive News article. "It’s not a low-profile gig: GM CEO Mary Barra’s team has been extolling a newfound discipline on the use of shareholders’ money through GM’s capital-allocation framework, created by [Chuck] Stevens’ team in 2015 as a guide for how GM spends its capital. Suryadevara, a native of India who moved to the U.S. to get her MBA from Harvard, says the treasurer job has given her a window into the operational side of the company at a fascinating time. GM is placing bets on ride sharing and autonomous driving through recent acquisitions and partnerships while also planning for the next, inevitable downturn in the sales cycle. 'With all of the innovation and disruption going on, we’re in a really good position to capitalize,' she said. 'At treasury, it’s our responsibility to work closely with the business and say ‘How do we make the right decisions and deliver on our commitments?’'" In addition to her finance duties, Suryadevara manages more than $80 billion in assets as the CEO of GM Asset Management at General Motors, a post she’s held since 2014.
  • Close Auto Plant in South Korea: General Motors plans to close one of its four South Korean assembly plants as the first step in a larger restructuring of its unprofitable GM Korea operations, according to a February 2018 Automotive News article. The Company said it will cease production and close its Gunsan plant by the end of May 2018. GM said the plant, which employs about 2,000 people, has been increasingly underutilized, running at about 20 percent of production capacity over the past three years, "making continued operations unsustainable." GM expects the closure to cost up to $850 million, including about $475 million in noncash asset impairments and up to $375 million in primarily employee-related cash expenses. All of the charges will be substantially recorded in the second quarter, GM said. The decision to close the factory comes after CEO Mary Barra said company officials were "in discussions" with minority owners and union officials involved with GM Korea that could lead to "some rationalization actions or restructuring. We're going to have to take actions going forward to have a viable business," Barra said. "This is the first step in a holistic plan to turn GM Korea into an acceptable return on investment," she said. "As the plan progresses, we’ll be able to share specific details." GM said the decision to shutter the Gunsan plant "occurs after a careful review of the company's operations, which have sustained significant losses for the past several years." The company said it has proposed "a concrete plan to stay in the country and turn the business around" to key stakeholders in the country, including its labor union, the South Korean government and key GM Korea shareholders. The proposal includes significant product-related investments in South Korea and would preserve thousands of jobs.
  • Book write-down as a result of tax overhaul: According to a January 2018 WSJ article, General Motors will book a $7 billion write-down stemming from the tax-overhaul bill passed in December 2017, though executives said broader benefits of the tax changes could help the company as it aims to maintain profitability levels amid a slowdown in the U.S. car market. GM said that 2017 pretax earnings are likely to be “at the high end” of its previous forecast of $6 to $6.50 per share. In October, the company said it expected to finish in the middle of that range. GM said it expects similar results in 2018 amid continued strength in its two biggest regions—North America and China—and a recovery in smaller markets including South America. The company added that it expects “further earnings acceleration” in 2019. GM said it would take a $7 billion noncash write-down to reflect the loss in value of tax-deferred assets held on its balance sheet. GM said the value of those credits against future taxes declined because of the reduction in the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%. CFO Chuck Stevens said the noncash charge won’t affect the amount GM spends to pay taxes each year. He said the tax overhaul will boost consumers’ disposable income, helping to offset any increases in the low interest rates that have aided car sales for years. Continued stout demand for pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles, which carry higher profit margins, has fueled the bulk of GM’s profit growth in recent years. The company’s performance in China, its largest market by sales, has remained resilient, with sales outpacing the broader industry. Some challenges in those parts of the business this year are likely to be offset by a rebound in areas that had been trouble spots, GM said. It expects improvement in overseas markets including South America, where GM has strong market share. Among the obstacles, GM expects pricing pressure to weigh on results in the U.S. and China in 2018. Production of its most important products, full-size pickup trucks and SUVs, also will be under pressure, GM said, as the changeover to an all-new truck platform will lead to some factory downtime, cutting output by about 70,000 trucks, or nearly 10%, compared with 2017. GM executives said strong demand for a line of revamped crossover wagons, a popular category, is likely to help offset the lost production. “We expect the headwinds and the tailwinds to roughly offset,” Stevens said. GM officials played down the threat of significant changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. During an investor conference, CEO Mary Barra said she believes there is an understanding among Trump administration officials that significant changes to the pact could have “negative consequences“ on U.S. jobs, and that “Nafta needs to be modified, not that we should walk away from it.” The company also said it is ramping up investment in autonomous-vehicle development as it prepares for a driverless-car service in undisclosed urban markets in 2019. GM said it would spend on average about $250 million a quarter in 2018, up from about the $150 million it had been spending in 2017.
  • Bet on U.S. market: In July 2017, General Motors provided a clearer portrait of its future, revealing how big a bet it is placing on the continued strength of U.S. buyers, reported WSJ. The company's financial performance was dented by moves it is making to exit Europe and certain emerging markets. More than $1 billion in costs led to a 42% plunge in second-quarter earnings to $1.7 billion and overshadowed the underlying strength of its core North American operation. The company said the short-term pain is worth it, with CEO Mary Barra saying that selling its money-losing Opel unit and shuttering operations in India and South Africa "will allow us to deploy resources and capital to higher-return opportunities." Topping that list is a new line of hulking pickup trucks due in 2018 and the revitalization of Cadillac's premium product line. Barra, however, faces one of her thorniest challenges in more than three years at the helm. She needs to maintain production discipline and hold incentives in check, a job that is complicated by the company's drastic pullback from selling to rental-car fleets that have long been GM's biggest customer. GM's North America unit contributed nearly all of the company's $3.68 billion in operating profit in the second quarter, dwarfing the operating profit and equity income derived from its other key operations-China and the GM Financial lending arm. The company enters the second half of 2017 with excess inventory in North America, resulting from robust production schedules in the first six months of the year. Inventories ballooned amid slower-than-expected sales of passenger cars, which prompted GM to begin cutting production at several U.S. factories. Other plants will be temporarily idled in fall 2017 so that assembly lines can be prepared for new sport utilities, pickups and crossover wagons, the hottest models on dealer lots. CFO Chuck Stevens said the company will report weaker third-quarter earnings as a result of needed production cuts. He committed to whittling down excess stock by the end of 2017. Stevens said history is on the company's side. The strongest selling season for trucks is traditionally the second half of the year, a factor that could offset the negative impact of production cuts. "The North American business model is proving to be very resilient to some of the challenges that we're facing," Stevens said. GM should finish 2017 with 10% pretax operating margin and could hit that level again in 2018, he added.
  • Retreat from European market: In August 2017 General Motors completed the sale of its European division to PSA Groupe, reported Detroit Free Press. GM's decision to sell Opel and Vauxhall brands is one of several moves the company has made to exit markets where it isn't making money or where it has a small market share. “We’ve taken another bold step in our ongoing work to transform GM,” said President Dan Ammann. “This transaction allows us to sharply focus our resources on higher-return opportunities as we expand our technical and business leadership in the future of mobility.” GM said it is still in the process of completing the sale of GM Financial’s European operations to Peugeot Groupe and BNP Paribas. The sale of that division is expected to close later in 2017. The sale includes all of Opel and Vauxhall’s automotive operations, including the brands, six assembly and five component-manufacturing plants, and an engineering center in Rüsselsheim, Germany. The move covers approximately 40,000 employees. "Our recent restructuring actions will allow us to deploy resources and capital to higher return opportunities, such as refreshing our profitable global SUV and U.S. full-size truck portfolios and our global emerging-market vehicle program," CEO Mary Barra said.
  • Supplier park: In June 2017, General Motors announced plans to increase efficiency at its Arlington, Texas, assembly plant by locating suppliers closer to home with a new park, bringing jobs from Mexico into the US, reported Automotive News. Supplier parks located near assembly plants typically result in significant savings from reduced transportation costs, better communications and continuous improvement activities, GM said. The park will feature two industrial manufacturing and warehouse buildings and will house up to 1,250 employees. The site will pull 850 jobs to the area, 600 of which the company estimates will come directly from Mexico, GM spokesman Nick Richards said, and will be fully operational by the end of 2018. “Through strong supplier and community relations, we’re able create new supplier parks to generate significant benefits to our manufacturing operations and the communities in which we operate,” Steve Kiefer, SVP of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain said. “This new supplier park will create improved logistics efficiency and coordination, while also bringing significant employment opportunities to Arlington.” Expansion in Arlington is part of GM's $1 billion pledge to reinvest in US operations. The new park positions will supplement the 1,500 manufacturing jobs the company said will be created or retained in the US.
  • Layoff amid downturn in passenger-car sales: General Motors will eliminate a shift at a sedan plant in Kansas City, laying off about 1,000 people as the company continues to shed thousands of factory jobs amid a sharp downturn in demand for passenger cars. GM notified workers that the factory’s third shift will be eliminated in late September 2017, reported the WSJ in June 2017. “Lower demand for passenger cars across the industry has caused us to adjust production of some models,” GM said. The company said it is launching a “record number” of crossover SUVs to retain customers who are defecting from sedans. The Kansas City factory makes just one model, the Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan, a market segment that is shrinking rapidly as consumers flock to crossovers amid tame gas prices and many new entries from auto makers. Back in May 2017, General Motors announced plans to cut one of its two shifts at the company's Warren Transmission plant, potentially affecting about half of the approximately 580 people who work there. GM over the past seven months has announced plans for more than 5,000 layoffs across a half-dozen U.S. factories in response to slow passenger-car demand. A GM spokesman said the actual number of workers out of a job is smaller because some have been able to transfer to other GM factories. Meanwhile, GM is in growth mode at factories that make pickup trucks and SUVs. Recently, the company said it would open a large supplier park near its plant in Arlington, Texas, to support its next generation of large SUVs. Employees at GM’s three U.S. pickup-truck factories also are working around the clock. GM executives have said the company will adjust production schedules to avoid overproducing vehicles, a practice that helped nudge the company into bankruptcy in 2009. GM has negotiated more flexible terms from the United Auto Workers union in recent years that make it less expensive to lay off workers than in past market downturns.
  • Redirect funds to corporate giving: General Motors is eliminating its philanthropic organization as it redirects $30 million in annual donations to focus on global development and education in science, technology, engineering and math, according to a June 2017 Automotive News article.  The company is cutting the GM Foundation to centralize its charity contributions in hopes of stamping a greater global and social footprint, according to Tony Cervone, senior vice president of global communications. The actions, he said, will not reduce overall philanthropic spending. "Rather than be limited by only those that are restricted under foundation-type rules, GM can work with partners that it chooses to drive specific social change," Cervone said. The overhaul involves passing the foundation's duties to the GM Global Corporate Giving department, which will handle the company’s worldwide charity efforts and distribute money directly from the corporation. Previously, the money was given to the foundation and then distributed. The new process will focus dollars on areas with potential to make the most impact on communities, GM contends. The company said it's a priority to hone its charity efforts to align with its core values, such as: bettering vehicle safety, reducing accidents and injuries, increasing high school graduation rates and supporting global economic development in cities, especially those where GM has operations and employee presence. The redirected charity dollars won't come as a surprise to the organizations that depend on funding, Cervone said. "All partners have been involved in either modifying the focus of their programs or have been on a reasonable wind-down of funds if there isn't alignment," he said. "Unless there were very limited funds going to a specific entity, we have worked very hard to limit the financial impact on institutions." Cervone said GM will "remain fully transparent" in the process by which partners can solicit funds.
  • Advance autonomous vehicle efforts: General Motors will build a development facility in San Francisco and eventually add 1,100 employees there to work on autonomous vehicles, a major expansion of GM’s Silicon Valley presence as it vies with other auto makers to lead the race for self-driving cars, according to an April 2017 WSJ article. GM said it will spend $14 million on the project, which will expand the headquarters of the company’s Cruise Automation subsidiary. The startup is developing the software that serves as the nerve center for its future autonomous vehicles. The hiring spree, which will be done over five years, would represent an eightfold increase in Cruise’s staff, underscoring the substantial investment GM and other car companies are making to get autonomous vehicles on the road. GM has more than tripled its Cruise head count since the acquisition, to about 150 people. In February 2017 GM said that it is spending roughly $150 million per quarter on autonomous-vehicle development. The company is testing about 50 self-driving Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles in San Francisco, Scottsdale, Arizona, and suburban Detroit. The software development done at Cruise is being integrated with GM’s massive engineering center in Detroit, though company executives said that they have been careful to keep the Cruise operation as a stand-alone entity to nurture a startup mentality. “Running our autonomous vehicle program as a startup is giving us the speed we need to continue to stay at the forefront of development of these technologies and the market applications,” said CEO Mary Barra. GM said the expansion of Cruise’s existing facility will more than double its space and be completed by the end of 2017. The state of California granted an $8 million tax credit to pave the way for the expansion, GM said.

Key Challenges

  • Shutter operations in Venezuela: In April 2017, General Motors shuttered its operations in Venezuela after authorities seized its factory in the country, reported Denver Post. The plant in the industrial city of Valencia was confiscated as anti-government protesters clashed with security forces and pro-government groups in a country battered by economic troubles, including food shortages and triple-digit inflation. The seizure arose from an almost 20-year-old lawsuit brought by a former GM dealership in western Venezuela. The dealership had been seeking damages from GM of 476 million bolivars — about $665 million at the official exchange rate. GM said they were notified that a low-level court ordered an embargo of its plant, bank accounts and other assets in the country. The neglected factory hasn’t produced a car since 2015 but GM still has 79 dealers that employ 3,900 people in Venezuela, where for decades it was the market leader.

Biographical Highlights

  • Born in 1980
  • A native Chennai, India, Suryadevara earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business, Finance and Economics from the University of Madras (1996-2000) and went on to earn an M.Com in Business, Finance and Economics from the University of Madras (1999-2000).
  • She also received her MBA from the Harvard Business School (2001-2003).
  • Surayadevara completed her Associate Chartered Accountant program from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (1997-2000) and Chartered Financial Analyst program from CFA Institute (2004-2007).
  • Held position, Assurance & Business Advisory Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd (1997-2000)
  • Associate Director, UBS Investment Bank (2003-2004)
  • Suryadevara joined General Motors Corporation in 2004 and has since held the following positions:
    - Senior Financial Analyst, Treasurer’s Office (2004-2005)
    - Investment Analyst, Fixed Income, GM Asset Management (2006-2008)
    - Manager, Fixed Income, GM Asset Management (2008-2010)
    - Manager, Multi-Asset Investment Strategies, GM Asset Management (January 2010-October 2010)
    - Director, Investment Strategy, GM Asset Management (2010-2011)
    - Managing Director, Investment Strategy, GM Asset Management (2011-2012)
    - Managing Director, Investment Strategy and Fixed Income, GM Asset Management (January 2013-July 2013)
    - Chief Investment Officer, GM Asset Management (2013-2017)
    - CEO, GM Asset Management (2014-2017)
    - Member, Investment Policy Committee
    - Member, Board of Directors, GM Asset Management
    - VP, Finance and Treasurer (2015-2017)
    - VP, Corporate Finance (2017-Present)
  • She was listed in the 40 Under 40 by Asset International Inc. in 2013.
  • She was named on the Fortune’s 40 under 40 list in 2015.
  • Suryadevara is married and has a daughter. She resides in New York.

Other Boards and Organizations

  • Member, Board of Directors, Girl Scout Council of Greater New York
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Contact Information

300 Renaissance Ctr.
Detroit, MI, 48265-3000
United States

313-556-5000

dhivya.suryadevara@gm.com


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Personal Interests

  • Fitness