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Will the next FCA CEO be an American?

by David Zatz on

While Sergio Marchionne said he might be willing to stick around at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) until 2020 if needed, at 63, he has expressed a desire to retire from the jet-setting job.

Larry Vellequette of Automotive News quoted the leader, who was almost laughed at when presenting Chrysler’s turnaround plan in 2009 — only to execute the financial portions in the face of almost universal doubt — as saying,

“My purpose in life is to find the Kuniskises of the world, the Manleys, the Biglands, the Palmers.”

These are the heads of Dodge, Jeep, US and Canada sales, and the FCA CFO. All came from the Chrysler side, not the Fiat side. They range in age from 48 to 51.

The choice of leaders was telling: missing from the list were Italy-based counsel Giorgio Fossati, marketing leader Olivier Francois, global parts and service chief Pietro Gorlier,  Alfa Romeo/Maserati head Harald Wester, and others previously thought to be favorites. Fiat family scion John Elkann was also missing from the list.

He also said he wanted leadership to matter in FCA’s culture, and said he needed to allow potential leaders to make mistakes but take responsibility for them. “I can’t throw people under the bus,” he said, indicating that the leader of the company had to take responsibility for any problems that come up.

Mr. Marchionne also indicated that the company would hire its next CEO from within.

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