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In-Demand CFO

After making GM more agile, Dhivya Suryadevara is set to steer financial services Startup stripe
twitter-logoSumant Banerji | Print Edition: October 4, 2020
In-Demand CFO
Dhivya Suryadevara, Former Chief Financial Officer, General Motors; current CFO, Stripe

Chennai-born Dhivya Suryadevara's decision to quit US automobile heavyweight General Motors for the CFO's chair in California-based online payments startup Stripe last month would have felt like hara kiri a decade ago. Today, it reads more like a smart career move.

With its technology powering businesses of companies such as Target and Amazon, Stripe is among Silicon Valley's most prominent startups with a valuation of nearly $36 billion. There are plans to launch an IPO soon. "I really enjoy leading complex, large-scale businesses," Suryadevara said on August 11, the day she jumped ship.

Suryadevara broke the proverbial glass ceiling when she became the first female Chief Financial Officer of GM in mid-2018. She had joined the company in 2004. At GM, she was credited for playing a pivotal role in Opel divestiture, Lyft investment, Cruise acquisition and SoftBanks investment in GM Cruise. Analysts say she made GM leaner and more agile. The company shut down three factories in North America and reduced head count by 8,750 last year. Cost savings from that of an estimated $2-2.5 billion is what has helped GM fare better during the pandemic than Ford or Fiat Chrysler.

"She has helped the company strengthen its balance sheet... drive the right investments for our future," GM CEO Mary Barra said at Suryadevara's exit.

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