GM CFO Leaves

The departure of General Motors (NYSE:GM) Chief Financial Officer Dhivya Suryadevara to digital payments company Stripe wasn’t supposed to happen. It’s just not how things are traditionally done in the Motor City.

Take her predecessor, Chuck Stevens, who spent 40 years with the automaker. Across town at Ford Motor (NYSE:F), former CFO Bob Shanks retired last year after a 42-year career. His predecessor had a 34-year career at Ford.

It was a decision that shocked Wall Street and the auto industry. But times are changing and Suryadevara, who rocketed through the company’s ranks to become its first female CFO in 2018, is different. The 41-year-old is young but has already accomplished more in the auto industry in her roughly 15-year career at GM than many could imagine in their lifetime.

Her departure, effective Aug. 31, highlights a major concern for "traditional" automakers such as GM and Ford: talent acquisition and retention. As the automotive and tech sectors have collided in the past decade with the rise of connected, electric and autonomous vehicles, the competitive landscape for top talent has increasingly become more challenging.

GM "lifers," a term used for those who spend their entire careers at the automaker, are becoming less prevalent.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas this week called the competition for talent, or "brain drain" the "biggest challenge facing" the Detroit automakers.

Shares in General Motors doffed 17 cents early Thursday to $27.86.