Carlos Ghosn    President and CEO Nissan Motor Co    Chairman and CEO Renault Group

Carlos Ghosn | President and CEO, Nissan Motor Co. | Chairman and CEO, Renault Group

2014 Hall of Fame Inductee: Carlos Ghosn

The French-Lebanese-Brazilian CEO's resurrection of Renault earned him the colorful alias "Le Cost Killer."

From time to time, unexpected opportunities crop up, says Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

"You take them or not, independently of how much chance of success you have," he told a Stanford Graduate School of Business audience earlier this year. "You just have to make a decision."

When all is said and done, Carlos Ghosn may be remembered best for his decision to accept an opportunity presented by Renault in 1999. It's a story that has been told often.

In brief, France's Renault had purchased a nearly 40% stake in Nissan, which was in deep financial trouble, and installed Ghosn, then a Renault executive vice president, to lead the recovery efforts as Nissan chief operating officer. Ghosn says expectations of him were clear. "Fix it," he says.

Ghosn did. His solutions were dramatic and included plant closures and thousands of layoffs. Within two years, however, the automaker returned to profitability and moved into the next phase, which was growth. 

Named Nissan CEO in 2001, Ghosn since has led the car company on a global expansion. Its workforce numbers more than 240,000, including 15,000-plus workers in the United States at the North American headquarters, three production plants, and technical and design centers.

At 60, Ghosn shows few signs of slowing down. In recent weeks he joined Daimler AG leader Dieter Zetsche to discuss shared projects between the German automaker and the Nissan-Renault Alliance, including the development of premium compact vehicles to be manufactured in Mexico.

As big an effort as it was, however, the Nissan turnaround is just a piece of Ghosn's expansive automotive—and manufacturing—career. In addition to leading Nissan (IW 1000/31), Ghosn—who is fluent in four languages—is chairman and CEO of the Renault Group (IW 1000/80), leads the Renault-Nissan Alliance, and is chairman of Russian car manufacturer AvtoVAZ.

He also had an early but lengthy career at Michelin, including the position of CEO of Michelin North America when the French tire maker acquired Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. in 1990.

At 60, Ghosn shows few signs of slowing down. In recent weeks he joined Daimler AG leader Dieter Zetsche to discuss shared projects between the German automaker and the Nissan-Renault Alliance, including the development of premium compact vehicles to be manufactured in Mexico.

He is committed to pushing automotive technology forward, including electric cars—think Nissan's Leaf—as well as autonomous drive technologies.

A truly global CEO, Ghosn has received numerous awards and recognition. Among them, he is a member of the Automotive Hall of Fame as well as the Japan Automotive Hall of Fame, an international fellow of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, and a World Economic Forum governor.

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