A man called Carlos Ghosn: Talent and energy

Economy August 11, 2017 01:00


“Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness” Frank Tyger, Editorial Cartoonist

Two months ago, I was given the privilege to meet Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Groupe Renault, thanks to the event organised by SASIN at the Peninsula Hotel Bangkok. 

In 1999, Carlos Ghosn was given a daunting task to run the auto alliance between one struggling automaker, Nissan and Renault, the other automaker which had just returned to profitability. Many industry experts at that time did not give the alliance much chance of success. Unlike the merger between Daimler-Chrsyler which was given everyone’s blessing. Well, in hindsight, we now know what happened. Daimler-Chrsyler endured a messy marriage and went separate ways. While Renault-Nissan alliance continues to flourish to this day with total sales of 9.9 million vehicles in 2016 or one in nine cars sold worldwide including Mitsubishi Motors which has recently been added to the fold. 

Thus, Carlos Ghosn’s job title just got a little bit longer: Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Chairman and CEO of Groupe Renault and Chairman of Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors.

At the meeting, obvious question from attendees on the floor were “How did you it?” “What is the secret to your success?” To everyone dismay, Ghosn replied that there is no silver bullet. In other words, the strategy that he used then with Renault-Nissan alliance was specific to Renault-Nissan. 

We can study it and learn about it but it does not necessary mean that one can just copy and use it another situation. But for me personally, I was more fascinated by the fact that here is a man who has been leading the world’s number 4 automaker for over 18 years and shows no signs of fatigue. 

What make him get up to work every day? Where does he get this energy from? Not only did he manage to do the job well but he seems to be immune from corporate burnout, why? To me this was equally important. Imagine the powerful combination of talent and relentless energy. 

This is what he said. The first ingredient is passion. Ghosn loved cars as a kid growing up and here he gets to work every day to make beautiful cars. The second ingredient is the opportunity to learn and grow. Auto industry is highly competitive and innovation is critical to keep up and stay ahead of the competition.

There is an important lesson to be learned here for business leaders and HR professionals alike. Recruiting talent is a step in the right direction. Once the right talent is acquired, we must harness talent’s energy by nurturing passion and development in the workplace. Passion is ignited when employees find meaning and purpose in their everyday work. Employees must know that their work matters and is meaningful. Don’t let training budget limit employee’s learning. Assign your employees on special projects and challenging roles. It can be done. It’s really up to managers to cultivate positive energy in the workplace. I don’t know about the others but I would rather have a team of Carloses working with me, rather than for my competitors!

SUVIT CHANSRICHAWLA, next-generation HR consultant under the brand Serendipity&Co.