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Rock Star: GM’s new CEO draws a big following

Looking for the new General Motors CEO Mary Barra at this year's Detroit Auto Show?

Follow the crowd.

Where ever she's gone at this year's show Barra has been trailed or surrounded by a sizable group of reporters and photographers snapping pictures, recording video and hoping to hear a few comments from the woman charged with leading GM.

"She's a rock star," says Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press. "People are fascinated with Mary. Foreign reporters, non-auto reporters, and of course all of us who cover this industry."

(Read more: New CEO: GM tending to embarrassing Silverado recall)

How much is Barra in demand?

GM says interview requests for Barra are up 50 percent compared with interview requests for outgoing CEO Dan Akerson at last year's auto show.

Media scrum madness

Phelan still can't believe what he saw Sunday night after Barra appeared at the unveiling of the new GMC Canyon. When the press conference ended, a swarm of reporters descended upon the front of the stage and began peppering the new CEO with questions.

Mary BarraGetty Images

These types of "media scrums" with auto executives after new vehicle press conferences are a standard part of every auto show.

However, Sunday's scrum with Barra turned into madness with reporters and photographers shoving each other, throwing elbows to jockey for position and yelling at each other in a desperate attempt to get a microphone or camera close to Barra.

"That crowd was unlike anything I've ever seen at an auto show," says Phelan. "It was crazy."

With reporters crushing each other, Barra stood there unfazed by the entire spectacle.

One of the first questions was what it meant for her to be the first woman ever to run a major automaker?

(Read more: Real challenge is ahead for GM's first female CEO)

Barra calmly replied, "I'm honored and humbled to lead GM."

After a few minutes, with the help of GM handlers clearing a path, she left the scrum and the press conference.

The message was clear; Mary Barra has no interest in being THE story at General Motors.

An engineer at heart

Barra is well aware of the significance her appointment as CEO of General Motors.

She has shattered the glass ceiling in an industry that has been dominated by men.

(Read more: Kyle Bass takes stake in 'undervalued' GM)


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