Most Powerful Women

How GM and YouTube CEOs climb the ranks

February 6, 2014: 11:46 AM ET

GM CEO Mary Barra and Google exec Susan Wojcicki, newly in charge of YouTube, show that you can reach the top by staying in one place.

GM CEO Mary Barra, No. 1 on Fortune's Global Most Powerful Women list

GM CEO Mary Barra, No. 1 on Fortune's Global Most Powerful Women list

FORTUNE -- Job-hopping can be a path to promotions and big pay for many executives, but the global edition of the Fortune Most Powerful Women list, released today, suggests that there is still value in corporate loyalty. Ten of the 50 executives on the list have been working at their companies their entire career.

And the woman at the top—Mary Barra, the No. 1 Most Powerful Woman in Business globally – is a star who not only worked her way up to CEO at General Motors (GM) over 33 years; she did it by not leaning in aggressively. No offense to Sheryl Sandberg (the Facebook (FB) COO with the bestselling Lean In is No. 11 in our global rankings), but I asked Barra, for a Q&A that appears in the new issue of Fortune, if she has ever asked for a promotion. "No, I have not," she replied. Have you ever asked for a raise? "No, I have not," the new GM chief answered matter-of-factly.

Leaning back has not seemed to hurt Barra, 52. Her philosophy: "Do every job you're in like you're going to do it for the rest of your life and demonstrate that ownership of it," she told me. "You deliver and produce results and you do it with high integrity and teamwork, and it'll all work out. You don't have to ask for different jobs, and you don't have to ask for raises.."

That may sound Pollyannish, but more power to Barra if it works out for her longterm. If you've heard the report that she's getting paid less than half of what her CEO predecessor, Dan Akerson, earned, don't believe it. GM has disclosed only Barra's base salary and short-term compensation so far. The company is yet to announce her long-term package, and until that happens in April, no one knows how her pay will compare. (On AC360 with Anderson Cooper Tuesday night, I suggested that the more fuss people make about Barra's pay, the more likely she'll earn more than Akerson.)

New YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki

New YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki

Another MPW lifer is making a big job change: Google (GOOG) announced Wednesday that Susan Wojcicki, SVP of ads and commerce, is the new CEO of the company's YouTube unit. Wojcicki, who famously rented her garage to co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page when they were plotting their startup and got onboard as employee No. 16, has been a team player much like Barra. It's not in Wojcicki's nature to push her own agenda over the company's to advance her career. Now, after she has built and managed Google's ad products these past 15 years, Wojcicki's new assignment can fulfill her desire to run a business.

Wojcicki's appointment makes sense for YouTube as well. My Fortune colleague Miguel Helft, who wrote a terrific cover story called "Why YouTube Changes Everything" last July, notes that YouTube's No. 1 issue is not content or audience; rather, it's ad rates. So the woman who has been, by some measures, the most powerful woman in advertising will work to make YouTube more than just a cultural phenom: a reliable money machine.

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About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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