Dhivya Suryadevara: From St John’s, Chennai to General Motors CFO

Indian-American Dhivya, who recently became General Motors first female Chief Financial Officer, was born and brought up at Mandaveli in Chennai.
Dhivya Suryadevara (File Photo)
Dhivya Suryadevara (File Photo)

CHENNAI: The 1996 batch of St John’s Senior Secondary School (Mandaveli) are a proud group since Thursday. Dhivya Suryadevara (39) is the reason behind it all. Indian-American Dhivya, who recently became General Motors first female Chief Financial Officer (CFO), was born and brought up at Mandaveli in Chennai. Her friends and neighbours fondly remember Dhivya as a humble and a very smart girl right from her childhood.

“When I heard about Dhivya’s achievement from my other friends in our 1996 batch WhatsApp group, I was overjoyed. I know her since Standard VII and we studied in commerce group till Standard XII. Also, I saw her mother a few months ago near the signal and was reminded about our school days,” said Muralidharan, one of Dhivya’s classmates from St John’s.

Dhivya who lost her father when she was very young, grew up with her mother and two elder sisters at their house at Mandaveli. Her mother, a retired bank employee, used to work at the Syndicate Bank’s Mylapore Branch many years ago. “Even before news about Dhivya’s promotion was in the news, her mother called and informed us. It was a very proud moment for all of us. But, we were very not surprised as we always knew she will reach great heights in her career. Though all three sisters live abroad, they keep flying in to visit their mother here,” said Viji Kumar, Dhivya’s neighbour, who moved in four years ago with her family.  

After completing her schooling, she joined Ethiraj College for Women to pursue a bachelor’s degree in commerce and later completed her master’s degree in the same field. At the age of 22, she moved out of the country to pursue her MBA in Harvard Business School. “She topped almost all exams right from school. Also, she was a rank holder when she pursued Chartered Accountancy. I have always known her to be very competitive and as a studious person,” said Shyam Sundar, another schoolmate of Dhivya.   

After working as an investment banker at UBS Financial Services for a year-and-a-half, Dhivya joined General Motors in 2005 as a senior analyst and has worked in several positions henceforth. Before being appointed as CFO, she was the vice-president for corporate finance since 2017.

Dhivya, who lives in Detroit with her husband and daughter, will take over as the new CFO from September 1 replacing Chuck Stevens. This is the first time that a major automaker in the USA has both its CEO and CFO as females.

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