GM's Heather Stewart on Driving Change and Empowering Diversity in Media (Video)

By Legends & Leadership Archives
Cover image for  article: GM's Heather Stewart on Driving Change and Empowering Diversity in Media (Video)

In the world of advertising and media, there are individuals whose journeys not only shape their careers but also influence the entire ecosystem. Heather Stewart, the General Director of Global Media and Marketing Services for General Motors (GM), is one such inspirational figure. Her story is not just about climbing the corporate ladder; it's about driving change, empowering diversity, and leaving a lasting legacy. Heather, her colleague Brianne Boles-Marshall, and General Motors are being inducted into the marketing and advertising community's Advancing Diversity Hall of Honors on April 11 at the industry's largest DEIB-focused event at New York's Hall des Lumiéres. For details visit

Heather's Unconventional Passion:

Heather's journey into the automotive industry began with an unconventional spark -- her childhood fascination with cars. It was her mother's job at a renowned motor company that ignited the flame. Young Heather would eagerly wait in the driveway for her mother to bring home different cars, a ritual that soon evolved into a deep love for automobiles. Despite not possessing an engineering background, she had an innate ability to connect with the essence of every vehicle.

From Saab to GM: A Unique Transition:

Heather's career took an unexpected turn when she joined Saab, a Swedish car brand known for its quirkiness. This leap into the unknown was nothing short of audacious, given the industry's norms. As she arrived at the Saab LA office, she encountered a brand that was as unique as the consumers it attracted. The diversity among Saab's customers fascinated her.

Here, Heather unearthed a pivotal truth: to excel in marketing, one must decipher consumer behavior. It's this realization that unlocked the door to her future success. As Saab eventually came under GM's umbrella, Heather's journey within the automotive giant began.

The Heartbeat of Chevrolet:

At GM, Heather sought to find where the energy flowed most freely. She found it at Chevrolet, a brand deeply rooted in the hearts of consumers. Chevrolet trucks, in particular, resonated with people and contributed significantly to the brand's volume and profitability. Heather stepped into the realm of Chevrolet truck advertising, a role that would become pivotal in her career.

Managing massive media budgets at Chevrolet, Heather embarked on a mission -- to understand consumers who were vastly different from herself. Her relentless dedication to understanding diverse consumer needs and preferences propelled her forward. During her tenure, she contributed to iconic Super Bowl commercials and made her mark in the high-octane world of NASCAR.

Multicultural Consumers: The Catalyst for Change:

Heather's commitment to diversity became the driving force behind her work. She recognized that the growth in the automotive industry was intricately tied to multicultural consumers. To stay ahead, GM needed to forge emotional connections through advertising and media with these diverse audiences.

Redefining Media: Lifting Smaller Voices:

As Heather delved deeper into the industry, she uncovered a systemic issue -- a media machine that inadvertently excluded smaller, diverse media companies. These companies struggled to find a seat at the table, often relegated to junior media planners. This realization fueled Heather's determination to effect change.

GM initiated a transformative plan to support these overlooked voices. Partnerships were restructured, a 30-day payment system was established, and multi-year agreements were introduced. Collaborations with agencies dentsu and Martin Retail led to the development of teams of experts dedicated to diversity commitments. Constructive feedback sessions became the norm.

A Legacy of Success:

Heather's vision extended beyond her own career. She aims to create a sustainable framework for success, one that future leaders will inherit. Her dedication was met with unwavering support from GM's leadership, including CEO Mary Barra. She set a standard of inclusivity that transcended her role.

OneVoice! for Growth Initiative:

Heather's unwavering commitment aligns seamlessly with the OneVoice! for Growth initiative launched by MediaVillage Education Foundation. This industry-wide effort seeks to unite all stakeholders -- brand marketers, agencies, media publishers, and more -- to advance diversity.

Advancing Diversity Hall of Honors:

In acknowledgment of Heather Stewart's and GM's unwavering commitment to diversity, they will be inducted into the Advancing Diversity Hall of Honors. This recognition is a testament to their exemplary leadership and dedication to driving change in the media industry. To acknowledge GM and the leadership of Heather Stewart and her colleague Brianne Boles-Marshall, along with other inductees, join the industry leadership gathering in New York City on April 11. Learn more at

Join the Movement:

Heather Stewart's story is a powerful testament to the transformative potential of determination and inclusivity. To learn more about her remarkable journey and GM's unwavering commitment to diversity, watch the full interview above or at

Copyright ©2024 MediaVillage, Inc. All rights reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.