Saturday was a very emotional day for the board members at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). With their 66-year old CEO Sergio Marchionne in the hospital and in grave health, the board members met to discuss promoting a new CEO to replace Marchionne. Their choice was Jeep and Ram brand CEO Mike Manley. Manley who has been being groomed for the position for the past couple of years, took the helm of the company Saturday afternoon.
FCA Chairman John Elkann, wrote a very emotional letter to FCA employees explaining the CEO transition.
This is without a doubt the most difficult letter I’ve ever had to write.
It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that our CEO Sergio Marchionne, who recently underwent surgery, unfortunately experienced complications that have worsened in recent hours and will prevent his return to FCA.
For the last 14 years, first at Fiat, then at Chrysler, and finally at FCA, Sergio has been the best CEO that anyone could ask for and, to me personally, a true mentor, partner and close friend.
We met at one of the darkest moments for our company and it was his intellect, perseverance and leadership that saved Fiat. He also achieved a remarkable turnaround at Chrysler and, through his courage in forging the cultural integration of the two companies, he established the foundations for a more secure and brighter future for us to take forward. For what Sergio has been able to accomplish, turning the impossible into the possible, we will be forever grateful.
But as he himself has said more than once, “The true value of a leader is not measured by what he has gained during his career but rather by what he has given. It is not what you accomplish today, but the legacy you will leave behind.”
Since the first evening we spent together, when we talked about the possibility of him taking the helm at Fiat, what really stood out to me, beyond his exceptional and extraordinary professional ability, were his human qualities. I saw these qualities in his eyes, in his demeanor, in the way he dealt with those around him.
He taught us to have the courage to challenge the status quo, to break with convention and go beyond the tried and tested. He has always pushed everybody to learn, to grow and to excel – often beyond their own limits – starting always with himself. The legacy he leaves with us speaks to what really mattered to him: the pursuit of excellence, the idea that there is always a better way.
His lessons, his impulse never to accept the status quo, never to be satisfied with good enough have become a core part of our culture within FCA: continually setting high standards and never settling for mediocrity.
Sergio’s definition of a leader is truer today than ever. What really matters is the kind of culture he leaves behind. The best way to judge a leader is by what the organization does after him.
This is yet another example of the true, rare kind of leader Sergio was.
We started years ago working on a succession plan that would ensure continuity and preserve the unique culture embedded in FCA.
With that plan already established, we are now moving ahead with the process and today the Board of Directors has named Mike Manley as the new CEO of FCA.
Mike has been one of the major contributors to FCA’s success and he has a remarkable track record of accomplishments.
Under his leadership, the Jeep brand has gone through a profound transformation and an unprecedented period of development, from a few hundred thousand units a year to several years of record sales, passing the million-vehicle mark in each of the past four years, becoming not only one of the fastest growing brands in the world but also the most profitable in the company.
Mike has held roles of increasing responsibility over the years, accumulating extensive leadership experience across all of our operating regions globally, achieving remarkable results in every position and always demonstrating determination in achieving his vision.
I am sure you will all provide your full support to Mike, so that we can work with him and the leadership team to execute our 2018-22 business plan with the same commitment and integrity that have already carried us so far.
A similar letter from John Elkann was released on the FCA Group website for the press.
Manley should make his first public appearance as the CEO of the automaker on Wednesday during the company’s second-quarter result report.
Marchionne still remains hospitalized in a Swiss hospital.