Who is Carlos Ghosn?

Valley News - Restored 'Old Ironsides' RefloatedThe achievement of Carlos Ghosn is a leadership feat of great magnitude. The Japanese car manufacturing industry is well known because of its efficiency and production technology New york fake id. Imagine a Brazilian Frenchman from a European car manufacturer, turning around a renowned but failing Japanese automobile corporation!

Carlos Ghosn’s parents where Brazilians with their roots in Lebanon. He was born in Brazil on March 9, 1954. When he was 6 years old he moved to Beirut with his mother, where he completed his secondary school education in a French Jesuit school (College Notre Dame de Jambour). He then went to France and being excellent in math, won admission to one of the prestigious French institutes for higher education, the École Polytechnique in Paris.

In 1978, after completing his studies, Ghosn began his career at Michelin Tyre Manufacturers where he worked for 18 years. Patriarch François Michelin saw his potential and Carlos made rapid promotion. First as head of research and development in France and then as a plant manager. He gained his first experience in integrating two different companies when he had to integrate Kléber, a tyre manufacturer which was doing badly and which Michelin had acquired. In January 1985 he was appointed chief operating officer of Michelin’s South American activities which were in trouble due to the rampant inflation in Brazil. Carlos was well equipped for this task because he had Brazilian nationality, spoke Portuguese, understood the Brazilian and South American culture, and, in addition to his very thorough education, had developed an intimate knowledge of the tyre manufacturing business.

Four years later, in February 1989 and after having made the Michelin factories in South America healthy again, François Michelin summoned him to take the helm of Michelin North America as chief operating officer and preside over the restructuring of the company after its acquisition of the American Uniroyal/Goodrich Tyre Company in 1990. At Michelin, Carlos Ghosn obtained valuable turnaround experience in several cultures (Europe, Brazil and North America). Louis Schweitzer, President of Renault, a mild mannered but aloof man and the grandnephew of illustrious theologian Albert Schweitzer of Lambarene (Africa), was looking for an able executive vice-president when he spotted Carlos Ghosn. After some hesitation in December 1966 “Le cost cutter” joined Renault as its vice-president, in actual fact its second in command. He was responsible for advanced research, automobile engineering and development, powertrain operations and purchasing. In addition to this extensive management portfolio and because of his fluency in Portuguese, coupled with his experience in South America, he supervised the Renault operations in the Mercosur.

When he started to streamline Renault he first gave attention to the procurement operation which he knew well from his experience at Michelin as a supplier to the auto industry. He also took the decision to close the Belgian Renault factory in Vilvoorde, a politically difficult decision because it made 3000 workers redundant and not only the unions but also even the Belgium government tried to block the closing of this profitable factory. Irrespective of this Ghosn persevered. He gained valuable experience in the political consequences of such harsh but necessary decisions. In the meantime Louis Schweitzer met Yoshikazu Hanawa (65), president of the ailing Nissan Corporation, who was looking for a suitable partner to strengthen the position of Nissan, the second largest Japanese automaker after Toyota. Nissan had a $20 billion debt and only three of its 48 models were making a profit. On March 27, 1999 came the historical announcement of the global partnership agreement of Renault and Nissan.

In order to support Nissan’s turnaround, Louis Schweitzer decided to make a major contribution towards reducing Nissan’s debt by investing 4.7 billion euros for a 36.8 % equity stake (and corresponding voting rights), under the provision that a Renault man would become chief operating officer of Nissan. Louis Schweitzer took a great risk because Renault was smaller than Nissan but much more profitable and it would take a lot of energy and the full attention of many of Renault’s talented executives to rescue Nissan. This meant that they would be unable to give their full attention to their own company.

At that time Louis Schweitzer already had Carlos in mind for the daunting task of making Nissan healthy again and recovering the investment Renault was planning to make in this new partner. Louis Schweitzer asked Carlos Ghosn if he was willing to move to Tokyo with his family and added that if Ghosn did not want to do this Schweitzer would not pursue the deal with Nissan. After conferring with his wife Rita and their four children, Carlos accepted the proposition offered to him and moved to Tokyo with his family.

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