Many thought that CEO Mike Manley would be Sergio Marchionne’s successor, and his first big decisions have largely followed Marchionne’s most recent five-year plan. However, today is a new day and Manley is proving to be an executive willing to make his own decisions.
After nearly a decade of developing and renewing its leadership team internally, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles hired a pair of executives from outside the automotive industry to man key leadership posts.
Manley named former Amazon Vice President Mark Stewart Fiat Chrysler’s North American COO, a job held at the beginning of this year by CEO Sergio Marchionne before his death in July and then by Manley.
Stewart, 51, was with Amazon for a little more than a year, where he was vice president of operations, managing customer fulfillment across 200 facilities with 180,000 employees, Manley told employees in an email that FCA released publicly Thursday.
(FCA set to open new SUV plant in Detroit. Click Here for the story.)
Manley also named Niel Golightly the company’s global chief communications officer. Golightly, 60, was vice president of external relations for the Americas for Shell Oil Co.
On the surface drawing talent from outside the auto industry might seem like a good way to add some new perspectives, and when those additions succeed, that is often the case. However, bringing in outsiders hasn’t always gone to form.
General Motors hired Ron Zarella to bring its marketing up to with the times. However, he efforts saw GM continue to lose market share. He lost out to Rick Wagoner to be GM’s CEO, and was further pushed aside when Wagoner brought in former Chrysler exec Bob Lutz to become the company’s design czar.
(Click Here to check out the all-new Jeep Gladiator pickup.)
Zarella quit to become CEO of Bausch & Lomb, where he came to GM from. Once in place, it was discovered he lied on his resume and he was ousted.
However, there have some that have bucked the tradition, Alan Mulally came to Ford from Boeing. With his plainspoken ways and insistence on speaking the truth, he’s largely credited with helping turn the company around.
Fortunately, FCA’s new hires aren’t completely new to the autos game. An electrical engineer by background, Stewart was COO for auto supplier ZF TRW after rising through TRW’s executive ranks.
(For more on FCA’s aggressive product plan for the next five years, Click Here.)
Golightly previously held other communications roles for Royal Dutch Shell and Ford Motor Co., where he was vice president of public affairs for Ford of Europe.