Carlos Ghosn - The Turnaround Specialist

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN020
Case Length : 09 Pages
Period : 1978-2002
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Nissan
Industry : Automobiles
Countries : Japan

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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First Job

In March 1978, Ghosn received a call from a manager at Michelin, informing him that the company was looking for French-educated engineers with ability to speak Portuguese, and work in its Brazilian factories. Ghosn went ahead and joined Michelin Group as the company provided him two things: visit to his birthplace and challenges at work...

The Next Destination - Renault

Around the same time, headhunters from Paris offered Ghosn the top executive position in the French auto major Renault.3 In October 1996, Ghosn joined Renault as Executive Vice-President reporting directly to the CEO, Louis Scheweitzer (Scheweitzer).

By the time Ghosn arrived at Renault, the company had reported a loss for the first time in 10 years, and its sales were declining. In addition, the French government divested its stake in Renault and the company was listed as a public limited company...

Management and Leadership Style

When Ghosn joined Nissan he did not have any pre-disposed opinion of the company or the prevailing situation. Said Ghosn, "This is extremely important in management. You must start with a clean sheet of paper because the worst thing you can have is prefabricated solutions…you have to start with zero base of thinking, cleaning everything out of your mind"6... 

Man of Action

Immediately after taking charge as COO in Nissan, Ghosn toured Nissan plants in Japan and worldwide. During his tours, he enquired about the problems faced by employees and the probable solutions that they could offer.

Ghosn was a man of action and therefore impatient. For instance, soon after took over as the COO of Nissan, he handpicked 17 people from Renault and gave them exactly 48 hours to decide whether they would like to accompany him to Japan or not. Similarly he gave three months time to the CFTs at Nissan to suggest solutions for the company's problems...

Excerpts Contd... >>

3]  Established in 1898, French Auto major Renault was well known for styling of its cars. Its product line included cars, taxis and buses.

6]  Magee, David, Turnaround: How Carlos Ghosn Rescued Nissan, Harper Collins Publishers Inc, 2003.


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