Keep mind, back in the 50's-70's the CEO title had less power then it does today, and was 2nd in command to the President of stated Company. The change was when Romiti became President of Fiat and kept the CEO title merging the titles into the same role.
“In the many years spent next to my grandfather (Giovanni Agnelli), Cesare Romiti faced difficult moments with courage, and for this he deserves a place of regard in the history of Fiat,” Elkann said in a statement.''
Cesare Romiti, who steered Fiat through tough times, diesFor many years, Romiti served as right-hand aide to Giovanni Agnelli, the jet-setting chieftain of the family dynasty that had founded the automaker in 1900 and would develop it into the nation's largest private employer.
In 1974, during the global oil crisis that rocked the automobile industry, Romiti joined Fiat, going on to become CEO and eventually chairman.
Just after becoming CEO in 1980, he helped break a weeks-long strike by factory workers with a march of some 40,000 Fiat managers and other white-collar workers through Turin, Fiat headquarters’ town, demanding the right to work. The strike was triggered by Fiat's plans to fire 14,000 workers.
For Romiti, the strike was more than a walkout that had crippled production. He contended that elements of the Red Brigades, an extreme-left terrorist organization whose shootings and ‘’knee-cappings" targeted business executives, magistrates and journalists, among others, had infiltrated the higher ranks of the CGIL labor union confederation. The union enjoyed the staunch backing of the Italian Communist Party, then the largest communist force in the West.
“I had 60 persons who were knee-capped,'' Romiti said in an 2010 interview with Catholic daily Avvenire, referring to the trademark tactic of the Red Brigades to shoot in the knees those they deemed capitalist enemies. Among those assassinated by the Red Brigades was a Fiat planning manager, and, Romiti noted, he himself had been the target of an attempted kidnapping.
After watching workers on the picket lines outside factories for weeks, Romiti said he took his car one evening without letting the bodyguards know. "I drove around Mirafiori (factory). In front of the gates you saw great bonfires, with people who were singing, laughing, dancing. Those weren’t workers struggling for jobs," Romiti told Avvenire.
The strike was broken, with laid-off workers given unemployment benefits, “but the future of the company and its employees was safe,” Romiti