Almost exactly 15 years after its disastrous deal that created DaimlerChrysler, the US automaker could finally get its “merger of equals,” thanks to the latest moves within the company and Fiat Group.
Courtesy of Sergio Marchionne and Maserati, Saad Chehab, a University of Detroit Mercy educated architect who was born in Lebanon and came to Detroit with his family as a teenager, last week was moved from running the Chrysler and Lancia brands to global marketing chief of Maserati.
That’s a key new position at the Italian luxury brand that Fiat expects to produce major sales and profit growth over the next few years. Executives from Chrysler didn’t get opportunities like that under Daimler, but Marchionne’s developing a promising track record.
“He’s trying to create a true partnership, a truly integrated corporation,” said professor Robert Wiseman, chairman of the department of management at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business. “Marchionne is trying to instill a culture that recognizes and rewards achievement.”
Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat and Chrysler, has already provided Chrysler employees more opportunities than Daimler did during its lifetime from Nov. 12, 1998, to Aug. 3, 2007. A former Chrysler executive runs Fiat’s worldwide purchasing operation. Dozens of Chrysler folks now have engineering, manufacturing and marketing jobs at Fiat in Europe and Asia.
“It’s always been clear that Chrysler and Fiat are on an equal footing,” said Michelle Krebs a senior analyst with Edmunds.com who recently visited Maserati headquarters in Modena, Italy. “If you work for either company, you have a lot of professional options and opportunities for growth.”
Chrysler executive Peter Grady just became Maserati’s new U.S. CEO, a vital job as Maserati adds new models and seeks to grow from about 6,000 worldwide sales last year to 50,000 in 2015.
Marchionne expects a lot from his executives. Some have left the company because they understandably don’t want to keep the same hours as the driven CEO. But when Marchionne finds someone who shares his appetite for seven-day workweeks and multiple job titles and responsibilities, the sky’s the limit.