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Former FCA Boss Sergio Marchionne Passes Away at 66

Jul 25, 2018

The Italian-Canadian responsible for turning around and building a global automaker from the ashes of Fiat and Chrysler has died. Sergio Marchionne, aged 66, has passed away, according to a statement from Fiat Chrysler Chairman John Elkann.

“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,” Elkann said.

The former FCA chief’s condition reportedly worsened following shoulder surgery and he hadn’t been seen publicly since June 26. Reports claimed Marchionne had suffered a cerebral embolism—when a clump of fatty plaque dislodges in the bloodstream, travels to the brain, and causes a type of stroke. He’d allegedly been in a coma on life support with little chance for recovery.

Marchionne rose to new heights after rescuing Chrysler from certain failure in 2009 and marrying the United States’ third-largest automaker with Fiat to create Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. Marchionne served as CEO of Fiat for 14 years, Chrysler for nine years, and Ferrari for four years. Since his tenure, he oversaw the elimination of FCA’s debts, spun off Ferrari and Ram as separate entities, and helped build the Jeep brand into a profit powerhouse globally.

The former CEO spoke bluntly, a contrast to his subdued sweater vests and associated attire, and rarely minced words when speaking to the press. His untimely death comes as Marchionne planned to retire from his position at FCA at the end of this year, though he was expected to serve as Ferrari’s head until early next decade.

Mike Manley, native of Edenbridge, England, who formerly led the Jeep and Ram brands, was appointed as FCA CEO last Saturday to succeed Marchionne. Louis C. Camilleri was named Ferrari CEO by the Ferrari board at the same time. Manley will oversee Marchionne’s final five-year plan for FCA, which calls for more electrification in a $10.5-billion investment in the coming years.

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Sergio Marchionne Memorial Fact Sheet
Event Facts

The private memorial was held on Thursday, Sept. 27, from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (EDT) at Tech Plaza, inside the FCA Chrysler Technology Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Tech Plaza is the same location where Marchionne stood in 2009 during his inaugural address to employees. It is a four-story, cylindrical cut-out at the heart of the Auburn Hills facility.
Thousands of employees gathered to watch the event through a variety of means: live in Tech Plaza or in-person at one of six large viewing locations throughout the 5.4 million-square-foot building.
Speakers at the memorial included John Elkann, Chairman of FCA, and Mike Manley, CEO of FCA.
Plant managers from 25 facilities were in attendance representing North American workers.
During his speech, Elkann officially renamed the company’s scholarship program, formerly the FCA Student Achievement Awards, to the “Sergio Marchionne Student Achievement Awards.” Established in 1996, the worldwide program recognizes eligible children of employees studying in high school, college or university. Each year, the program supports approximately 2,000 young people in their studies.

Quotes from Speeches
John Elkann, Chairman of FCA
“He taught us to think differently. To have the courage to change and act. To be unafraid. He taught us that the most important question to ask ourselves at the end of every day is whether we have been able to change something for the better. And Sergio did so, wherever his work took him and in the lives of so many people.”

“He was not a man of perhaps and maybe. He took decisions, never shying away from issues, as tough as they might be. His role as CEO was always about responsibility, never privilege. And he constantly lived to that responsibility.”

“We will continue to reach higher levels of performance, which is what really mattered to Sergio: the pursuit of excellence, the idea that there is always a better way. He set us a powerful example through his humanity, his determination never to accept the status quo, never to be satisfied with good enough and never settling for mediocrity. As we come to an end to this Memorial – of who to me was a true friend and whom I miss very much – I hope we can all find some comfort in knowing that his example is something we will continue to carry with us.”

Mike Manley, CEO of FCA
“I was lucky enough to become part of his world nine years ago. The years since then have been the most intense, absorbing and engaging of my life. I have said publicly that working with Sergio was a business education that you could not buy regardless of how much you wanted to spend, what I did not say publicly was that for me, it was also a journey of personal growth – he gave me the space to understand who I am and pushed me to explore my full potential.”

“Inheriting such a legacy is no easy task, but one thing I will not try to do is be Sergio. He was and will always remain a unique leader. I will do my best to preserve his legacy, to ensure this company continues to nurture and develop the values that are essential to its success, to retain the respect of our competitors and the confidence of the financial community and, above all, to guarantee the dignity of everyone who is a part of this incredible organization. I will do my best to honor Sergio’s memory. And the greatest tribute we can pay Sergio is to continue doing what we do and – as he taught us – constantly strive to do it better.”
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