Detroit auto show kicks off today with plenty to celebrate if the industry. U.S. Car maikers coming off the best year since 2007. Sales up 8%. Rebecca jarvis sat down with the first female ceo of gm.... See More
Detroit auto show kicks off today with plenty to celebrate if the industry. U.S. Car maikers coming off the best year since 2007. Sales up 8%. Rebecca jarvis sat down with the first female ceo of gm. Reporter: Mary barra stepping on to the world stage. The first appearance since being named ceo of gm. Congratulations. Good morning. "Good morning america" getting exclusive access. When you were originally told you were going to be the ceo of general motors, was there a conversation with the family about, things are going to change? Sitting at the dinner table and shared with the kids that i had been selected for this role. And they were very excited. Reporter: Barra, voted most likely to succeed in high school, fell in love with cars thanks to her cousin's camaro. I was like that is a cool car. I had to make the smart choice. I had a chefrl lay chevette. Reporter: Her mother told her to pursue math and science. You're going to go the college, you decide what you want to be, but you're going college. Reporter: In 1980, her first job at gm, inspecting pontiacs on the line. Didn't think, I could be the ceo some day? No. I stayed focused on the job i was doing. That's the truth. Reporter: Are you serious? I am. I think sometimes, in the industry, people are too focused on the next job as opposed to the job they're really doing. That's been my focus. Reporter: For all the gender talk, she would much rather focus on the cars. I have never approached it from that perspective. I go in, work hard, do what needs to be done. Build a strong team. Reporter: What does it say to the american auto industry and the american people to see a woman on top? When I started here 33 years ago, I had no idea this was the role I would play. I approached every position like I was going to do it for the rest of my life. It's a strong message about hard work pays off. Reporter: Her predictions for the future, more electric cars. Guess what else will be on the road if 25 years? Self-driving cars. She feels okay. And you look okay behind the wheel.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.