Sergio Marchionne: A Remembrance
This week saw the sudden passing of former Fiat Group and Ferrari Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne. Marchionne, who had recently undergone surgery at a Hospital in Switzerland on his right shoulder, developed complications shortly after and later died as a result of an aneurysm. He was 66.
Marchionne assumed the top job at the Italian group back in 2014 after then FCA chief Luca Di Montezemolo resigned. Despite his tenure lasting a little under 4 years, Marchionne quickly made an impact on the automotive industry and motorsport world simultaneously. Whilst gaining a reputation of being a formidable business opponent and shrewd negotiator, his passion for the brands in which he stood for and his unwavering desire to see them succeed quickly made him an admired and well-respected businessman.
A self-confessed workaholic, Marchionne was born in Chieti, Italy in 1952 before emigrating to Toronto in Canada with his family, where they had relatives, at 13 years of age. Holding a passport of dual nationality he was fluent in French, English and Italian and completed his undergraduate studies in philosophy before completing a bachelor of commerce degree, an MBA and a degree in law. A man of clear intellect he initially started working for Deloitte as an accountant before working his way up through numerous directorships before being appointed to the board of Fiat S.p.a in 2003.
After taking the Chief Executive role of the Fiat group in 2014, It’s widely accepted that Marchionne is the man responsible for turning around the ailing fortunes of the Fiat group and played a major role in seeing Chrysler avoid near bankruptcy. Whilst these moves saw major restructuring throughout both of these brands, the two carmakers are arguably in the strongest health that they have been in and in recent years helped turn the Fiat group into one of the fastest growing automotive groups in the world. Whilst a major part of this turnaround in fortunes for the group came from Marchionne’s unwavering desire to see these brands succeed, the man from Chieti also had a frank manner about him. He was a keen observer of the industry and on occasion was heard making public criticisms of his own brands which almost always were the catalyst for group-wide improvements.
Another high profile element of Marchionne’s already impressive CV was his reign over Ferrari and therefore one of the most fabled Formula One team in the sport's history, Scuderia Ferrari. Within months of taking up the position, Marchionne had quickly removed team principal Marco Mattiacci after a dismal 2014 Formula One season. Off the back of two close championship run-ins with Fernando Alonso over the previous handful of seasons, the team was in sharp decline as Formula One’s new hybrid era came into force.
To hasten change Marchionne drafted in ex Phillip Morris marketing man Maurizio Arrivabene as team principal. With focus turned to bolster the team's technical department whilst calling upon the services of four times F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel the team slowly started to rediscover it’s on track form to the point where it finds itself a serious contender for both championship crowns this season. In more recent years Marchionne became a passionate ambassador of Formula One as a whole and spoke vocally about the sports future and his ambitions for the direction of the sport. He was also the lead player in bringing the Alfa Romeo name back to the sport through an elegant tie-up with the Sauber team.
From the boardrooms of the automotive world, right through to the Formula One paddock, Sergio Marchionne has left an indelible mark in a very short space of time. In light of everything he achieved, Sergio Marchionne will also be remembered as a man of true authenticity and compassion and was always a passionate supporter in the Formula One paddock and on the wider automotive stage of the brands he loved so dearly. A family man at heart, he is survived by his partner Manuela Battezzato and their two adult sons from his partner's former marriage.
The automotive and motorsport world has truly lost a gentle giant of whose legacy will reach far into the future and whose presence will be sorely missed. Everyone at Premier GT would like to extend their thoughts and condolences to Sergio Marchionne‘s family and friends.