“I’m a fixer by nature”
Sergio Marchionne was an outspoken industry leader who orchestrated the merger of two troubled companies to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. His turnaround of the firms into one of the largest and most profitable automotive manufacturers in the world is one of the great success stories in recent automotive history.
Marchionne was born in Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy in 1952. When he was 13, his family emigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Marchione did not begin his career in the auto industry until 2003, when he was elected as an independent member of the Board of Directors of Fiat. In 2004, he was elected CEO of Fiat.
When he first took the helm at Fiat, the company was in turmoil. There were numerous leadership problems, too many layers of administration and slow communication. Utilizing his blunt and aggressive management style, Marchionne attacked the issues and made hard decisions that others were unwilling to make. The result was a much more productive and valuable company.
Marchionne’s quick turnaround of Fiat made him the one of most watched CEOs in the auto industry. In 2009, his reputation was further augmented after Fiat’s acquisition of a 20% stake in Chrysler. He was subsequently named CEO of Chrysler and began to form a strategic alliance between the companies. Under his control, Chrysler paid back its government loans less than two years after they had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Fiat’s stake in Chrysler increased to over 50% that year and, in 2014, Fiat and Chrysler officially merged under Marchionne’s leadership.
The new firm, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is now on stable financial ground thanks largely to Marchione’s efforts. Marchionne was set to retire in April of 2019 but fell ill during the summer of 2018. He died on July 21, 2018 following complications from surgery. Regarded as “one of the boldest business leaders of his generation,” Sergio Marchionne left a legacy of always being able to deliver, no matter the obstacles.