Women in STEM: 10 quotes by GM’s Alicia Boler-Davis


Alicia Boler-Davis was named senior vice president of Global Connected Customer Experience at General Motors last month.

We curated Boler-Davis interviews and speeches on YouTube, and here are 10 direct quotes from the mind making the connection between GM and you. Number one is ridiculously inspiring.

Let’s start with the basics. Boler-Davis recently – and by recently we mean earlier this month – told Fortune Magazine how she discovered her potential in engineering. She wasn’t born a VP, you know.

“In our house, if something broke, they always called me.”

“And in fact, I used to break things, so I could put them back together”

Her mind was ready. But, here’s how she put two and two together and realized her drive to break-and-fix and fix-and-break was called engineering.

“I like math and science, but I like to fix things; and someone said, ‘Oh, engineers do that,’ and I had no idea what an engineer did, and I was in middle school.”

“I remember walking around telling people ‘I’m going to be an engineer,’ but I didn’t really know what that meant.”

Boler-Davis has two young boys now. She said she’s noticed something in their classrooms: Girls are just as math inclined as boys at the elementary level.

“I don’t know what happens in middle school that we get discouraged or we dumb ourselves down to where we don’t believe we can do it, but I think that’s the critical point in middle school: encouraging girls that this is still good.”

Watch the full video below.


Fortune Magazine: Alicia Boler-Davis

Boler-Davis has been at GM since 1994. In these 20 years, her roles have included manufacturing engineer; plant manager – She’s the first black woman to hold this title at GM; vehicle chief engineer; VP of customer experience; and her current title.

She spoke to students at the University of California, Berkley Haas School of Business last year.

The topic was leadership. She said challenging the status quo is an important aspect of a leader.

“I’m not in this role to sit at the table and agree with everyone.”

“Driving change takes a lot of courage, and it takes the willingness to challenge an organization regardless of how big it is.”

It gets better.

“The easy thing to do is to keep doing what’s always been done, but challenging the status quo can show you things you didn’t know were possible.”

Almost there.

“When you do that, you’ll gain respect. You’ll gain respect from your team, from yours peers, and from your leaders because you’re operating on a value basis, to what’s important to you on principle.”

“I operate in principles, on ‘what’s the right thing to do,’ and if it’s not right, I’m not going to do it. If it’s not going to help us get better, then I’m not going to agree to it.”

Leadership: learn it.

Watch the full video below.


UC Berkeley Haas School of Business: Alicia Boler-Davis