Mike Manley, the man who replaced Sergio Marchionne this summer as head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has solidified his senior management team, shifting company veterans into new roles at key brands.
The new management plan, announced in a letter to employees Monday, puts Tim Kuniskis, who will continue to head Alfa Romeo, in charge of Jeep in North America, Reid Bigland over Ram and Pietro Gorlier as lead for European operations. Kuniskis was elevated to head of Alfa after overseeing the launch of the Dodge Demon last year. Unclear from the letter was who will be responsible for Jeep globally, although Manley had been head of both Jeep and Ram prior to his elevation to CEO.
Michelle Krebs, Autotrader executive analyst, noted the significance of the Kuniskis and Bigland appointments.
“The appointment of Kuniskis to Jeep and Bigland to Ram are logical, solid choices. Both brands, particularly Jeep, are critical to FCA’s future success,” she said.
Manley struck a tone of consistency in his letter, highlighting the connection of the management team to the company’s five-year plan unveiled in June in Italy.
“Having been deeply involved in the development of the plan, I can tell you that it was created with the sure knowledge that we have the depth and breadth of talent and skills we need to meet our objective of becoming one of the world’s most profitable automakers,” Manley said in the letter. “One key element in the plan is to ensure that our leadership team is best aligned to our objectives going forward.”
But Manley, who was elevated to the CEO post in the wake of Marchionne’s sudden illness and later passing, also acknowledged that the company will face challenges.
“The next five years will continue to be extremely challenging for our industry, with tougher regulations, intense competition and probably slower industry growth around the world. Nevertheless, with a laser focus on execution and a continued flexibility that allows us to adjust as circumstances change — something that has become one of our most unique characteristics and strengths — we have a clear line of sight to achieving our five-year ambitions,” according to the letter.
Here’s the full list of appointments:
Pietro Gorlier, who will continue to lead Mopar globally, was named chief operating officer of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Gorlier, “whose father worked for Fiat in Italy, … brings a deep respect and knowledge of our operations in Europe,” according to the letter. Steve Beahm, who heads passenger car brands in North America, will be responsible for Mopar in North America.
Ermanno Ferrari was picked CEO of Magneti Marelli, where he most recently led the lighting division. Ferrari will be part of the Group Executive Council, a company leadership organization.
Harald Wester was tapped as chief operating officer of Maserati and will keep his position as chief technology officer. “He has a deep understanding of the premium brand market place, and this appointment will also enable him to apply the most advanced of our technologies to our premium brand, Maserati,” the letter said.
Tim Kuniskis, as head of the Jeep Brand North America, will “maintain his responsibilities as global head of Alfa Romeo and will apply his proven skills in product and marketing to two of the industry’s most cherished brands, both of which have significant growth ambitions in our five-year plan,” according to the letter.
Reid Bigland keeps his management of Canadian operations and U.S. sales but will add head of Ram to his responsibilities. When he led Ram in 2013 through 2014, the Ram brand “experienced sales growth of nearly 50 percent. With the new Ram Light Duty Truck nearing full production and the new Ram Heavy Duty planned to come to market in mid-2019, Reid has the right products and the skills to take Ram to the next level,” the letter said.
Scott Garberding, formerly global head of quality, was picked as global chief manufacturing officer. “Scott has nearly 30 years of industrial experience at FCA, including leading North American manufacturing, our global purchasing organization when he was based in Italy, and most recently global Quality. Scott has an in-depth knowledge and understanding of our world-wide manufacturing system and of the people that work in our plants,” the letter said. Garberding, who will also oversee both Comau and Teksid, replaces Stefan Ketter who had planned to retire.
Richard Schwarzwald was tapped as the new global head of quality after leading FCA’s Quality group in Latin America. He will also be on the Group Executive Council. Mark Champine takes over Quality for North America and Geraldo Barra does so for Latin America.
Contact Eric D. Lawrence: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence.
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