Carlos Ghosn: A giant in Japan

 
Prestige issue 87, August 2000
 

At the head of Nissan, 7th cars manufacturer in the world, Charles Ghosn 46, former executive chairman of Renault. Chameleon, world citizen, he speaks five languages ​​and the universal language of business: the cost «killer» goes to the rescue of the Japanese giant, steel hand in a velvet glove.

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© Prestige

Itinerary of a Chameleon

BORN IN 1954 IN BRAZIL,
He attended the Jesuit school where he learned the meaning of work and discipline, and at 20 years old, he obtained two degrees in engineering from the Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole des Mines in Paris. He joined the giant of the tires industry Michelin and after its acquisition by Uniroyal Goodrich, he developed multi marketing strategies for the American group in the United States. In 1996 he joined the company Renault where he was appointed a month later executive chairman. He managed Renault operations in the Mercosur region in Latin America, after Paris, Tokyo …Carlos Ghosn a “multi terrestrial” according to his words.

PRESIDENT IN TITLE of
NISSAN SINCE JUNE 20,
First Lebanese and first Westerner to lead a Japanese firm of that size, great manager, a specialist of restructuring, he always managed to impose his clear vision. Appointed Executive Director of Nissan (COO) in May 1999, he became its president in June 2000. Always in the vanguard. Aware of the leading-edge technology, great initiate of Internet, he belongs to the elite of the new bosses.

HIS AMBITION, HIS CHALLENGE:
REDUCE COSTS OF THE ENTERPRISE OF 20%, REDUCING DEBT of 50%, AND EVEN REALIZE PROFITS BEFORE 2001. TO
MEET A CHALLENGE LIKE THIS, ONE MUST HAVE TEMERITY AND COMMON SENSE.
WILL HIS RECOVERY PLAN SUCCEED? ALL LEADS TO BELIEVE THAT.

Tokyo-Paris-Beirut …From Lebanese father and French mother, he grew up in Brazil, with the American mentality and a spirit of European discipline. Today he learns the Japanese language …His recent visit to Beirut was highly publicized.

HE ANNOUNCES IN BEIRUT THE REVIVAL OF NISSAN

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© Prestige

Carlos Ghosn and the president of the Order of Editors M. Melhem Karam at the conference table

During his stay in Beirut, the new boss of Nissan held a press conference at the Hotel Le Vendome InterContinental during which he announced his plan to “reform” and his goals for the revival of Nissan worldwide. He will not fail to note that Nissan displayed for the third consecutive year outstanding results in terms of sales in Lebanon, confirming its status as best seller available at the agent of Nissan Rasamny Younès. By 2002, no fewer than 22 models will be launched, to the delight of fans of the brand.

When he was appointed president of the car manufacturer, he began immediately the turn and did not hesitate to share his battle plan that thrilled more than one: thoroughly restructuring and cost reduction which consisted among others in the closing of five plants and the elimination of some 21,000 jobs.
An austere policy that could only arouse general animosity but his approach has convinced even the smallest employee of the firm he tries to resurrect. He toured the confines of the company, visiting every corner. Carlos Ghosn wants to know everything about the empire he is managing and refuses that Nissan is a giant with feet of clay…

NISSAN is now the 7th world’s largest automaker. Its worldwide operations involve some 7,000 dealers in more than 180 countries. The brand with the slogan remains: Life is a journey, enjoy the ride, wants to be “global” brand with a global mission. Renault became the first holder of the brand (having 37% in the capital), it is an industrial era that began under the leadership of Carlos Ghosn. Nissan is the first car company to establish regional headquarters in the Middle East, to better understand the needs of this region and provide assistance to distributors.

IT’S AT JEBEL ALI FREE ZONE in the UAE that Nissan has chosen to open its new headquarters. The building will include a training center of high technology and a broad auditorium to accommodate 250 people. This will allow Nissan Middle East to hold conferences and seminars. As for long-term projects, they consist in introducing new models that contribute to develop the Middle East economy and strengthen the position of Nissan.

A KAMIKAZE IN THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN
By 2002, the number of Nissan suppliers in Japan is expected to decrease from 1,200 to 600,in order to reduce costs, and concessions and outlets will be divided by ten! And to improve productivity, Nissan will bring its production capacity from 2.4 million to 1.6 million vehicles. The utilization rate of the equipment will increase by 53% reaching 77%.
Carlos Ghosn has set up to March 2001 for making a profit. Let’s recall that when Renault took over Nissan, the group was bending under the weight of$ 30 billionin debt.
Today, the beginnings of a revival are felt. The recovery plan seems to work. One must say that Ghosn ventures throughout to win the trust of his employees and assigns stock-options for the most dynamic.
He declares hating false compromise and does not hesitate to tell his directors what he thinks about their passivity, which provoked the fall of Nissan.

He goes in war against bureaucracy, encouraging stock options, condemns the lack of openness of managers and promises the finest auto successes of the century.

Personal level breakfast with his wife Rita, married since15 years, also from Lebanese origins. Caroline 13 years old, Nadine 9, Maya7, Anthony 5 years. In a country where the tea ceremony is a sacred ritual, Ghosn family sacrifice the oriental tradition of Turkish coffee…but are learning to use chopsticks. Carlos Ghosns says he feels at home anywhere. glad to live in Japan, he immersed himself in the local culture, it’s a good thing: his kids love electronic gadgets. And sumo matches have replaced soccer games.

A STAR
He is more photographed than a star in Tokyo, today he is the most powerful stranger in Japan. All the Japanese press talks about him. In Tokyo, he is more famous than Alain Delon and never felt any racism towards him.
Yet the change of life and integration have not been easy. Some Japanese shareholders have tried to criticize the “stranger” with contempt. Ghosn replied justly, smiling.

RUMOURS…
There are rumors that in three years, when he finishes straightening Nissan, Ghosn will take the head of Renault, either. ..The consecration to the Lebanese Polytechnique  graduate.