Big jobs up for grabs at Chrysler

Marchionne keeps the reins in N.A.

Luca Ciferri
Automotive News — July 25, 2011 – 12:01 am ET

TURIN, Italy — Sergio Marchionne plans to delegate more responsibility to regional bosses — except for the time being in North America.

Sources say Marchionne, CEO of Fiat and Chrysler, will name himself interim boss of North America because Chrysler’s rebirth is still a work in progress.

But while their boss remains the same, top executives in North America are still on edge wondering who will be promoted.

Will the Fiat/Chrysler purchasing boss be Chrysler’s Dan Knott or Fiat’s Gianni Coda, for example?

Marchionne’s new structure, coming just after Fiat bought out the U.S. and Canadian governments’ combined remaining 7.5 percent share to become Chrysler’s majority owner, will give Fiat and Chrysler one global management.

The new structure is scheduled to be revealed on Tuesday, July 26. For breaking news on Tuesday, go to

The most significant change is a new global layer of management, called the steering committee. Marchionne will name a total of 25 executives from both sides of the Atlantic. They will run the global operations of both Fiat and Chrysler in their functional areas and have more face time with Marchionne.

Take Dan Knott, Chrysler’s well-regarded head of purchasing. Sources, who declined to be identified, say Marchionne could name Knott or Fiat purchasing executive Gianni Coda to run global purchasing on the steering committee.

Coda is a question mark

Dan Knott: Global head of purchasing?


The issue is complicated because Marchionne is leaning toward Coda as regional boss of Europe. It’s not clear whether Coda could handle the European job and also lead Fiat/Chrysler global purchasing.

Under the plan, executives who are not promoted to the steering committee will retain their current positions. For them, the big adjustment will be reporting not just to Marchionne but to their new global boss as well.

The thorny structure is typical of a Marchionne organization. It reflects his necessity to micromanage when he feels like it — and the companies’ obvious need to lighten his exhausting work load.

Company sources in Turin and Auburn Hills, Mich., outlined the plan on condition of anonymity because the plan was confidential and unfinished last week.

International committee


Marchionne wants the steering committee, which will be sprinkled with executives with diverse backgrounds, to look beyond the parochial needs of Fiat or Chrysler.

During the past 40 days, Marchionne has been selecting the 25 executives who will run the two automakers on the steering committee. Characteristically, he is keeping his own counsel, the sources say.

The Chrysler and Fiat boards are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to review first-quarter results.

While Marchionne will install himself as interim regional boss of North America, the plan will relieve him of some of his trans-Atlantic duties.

On paper he still will have 50 direct reports in the auto sector — 25 each at Fiat and Chrysler — while the companies remain separate legal entities. But practically, the sources say, much of his time will be spent with the new steering committee and the top layer of management at Chrysler.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at 

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