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A Special CEO Honor

CEO Profile

Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn
CEO of  Nissan - Renault

Company Profile

Industry: Automobile Manufacturing
Employees: 150,000
Revenues: $83B
Market Cap: $36B

CEO Awards -  A Special CEO Honor

Carlos Ghosn receives CEO Q top honor and leads the list of the Most Respected CEOs for 2010. This honor is given to him for his legendary turnaround of Nissan Motor Co. and his global leadership success against all odds.

The CEO Challenge

  1. From 1993-1999 Nissan global operations suffered 7 years of losses. Credit rating services were threatened to lower their status from “investment grade” to “junk”.

  2. At the same time, Asia was in the middle of the worst financial crisis.

  3. Carlos was asked to manage the turnaround of Nissan, based on his reputation of cost-cutting at Renault (a French car company).

  4. The company has formidable financial and operational challenges, both in scale and complexity

  5. Everyone hates change. Changing a global giant is even more difficult.

  6. Mr. Ghosn was born to Lebanese parents in Brazil, educated in France, considered a gaijin (alien) in a society that suspects foreigners, and he does not speak Japanese!

CEO Achievements

Ghosn executed the Nissan Revival Plan (NRP) by cutting costs and increasing revenues at the same time. He turned around Nissan to profitability in less than 18 months and achieved the best financial performance in the company’s history. Nissan became the car manufacturer that grew the most, not only in growth rate but in absolute numbers too.

How about the most recent performance during the financial crisis?

In fiscal year 2009, Nissan made a profit while most other automakers were losing money. Obama's administration asked Mr. Ghosn to run General Motors Corp., but Ghosn declined the request in order to focus on building Nissan-Renault. In 2010, the Renault-Nissan Alliance became the first to mass-market, affordable zero-emission vehicles (Nissan LEAF). Vehicle pre-orders in the U.S. and Japan surpassed the available production capacity for fiscal year 2010.

CEOs can learn a lot from Carlos, whether they are seeking growth via innovation, executing a turnaround plan or leading in the global economy.


Carlos Ghosn is the president and CEO of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., a global automotive company with 180,000 employees and $83 billion in revenues. Mr. Ghosn joined the company as its COO in June 1999, became its president in June 2000 and was named CEO in June 2001.

In May 2005, Mr. Ghosn became the president and CEO of Renault S.A. in addition to his current responsibilities at Nissan. As head of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Mr. Ghosn is responsible for two separate companies with combined annual global sales of 6.1 million vehicles.

Prior to joining Nissan, Mr. Ghosn served as EVP of the Renault Group, since December 1996. He was responsible for advanced research, car engineering and development, car manufacturing, powertrain operations and purchasing. Before he joined Renault, Mr. Ghosn had worked with Michelin for 18 years. As chairman and CEO of Michelin North America, Mr. Ghosn presided over the restructuring of the company after its acquisition of the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company in 1990. Previously, Mr. Ghosn had worked as the COO of Michelin's South America based in Brazil; as head of research and development for industrial tires in Ladoux, France; and as plant manager in Le Puy, France.

Mr. Ghosn was born in Brazil on March 9, 1954 to Lebanese parents. He graduated with engineering degrees from École Polytechnique in 1974 and from École des Mines de Paris in 1978.

Mr. Ghosn currently serves on the board of directors of Alcoa.

CEO Insights

"It sometimes seems to me the North Americans, Europeans and Japanese working here are becoming more alike than they are different" - Carlos Ghosn, CEO Nissan

"China will be the answer to Japan's problems" - Carlos Ghosn, CEO Nissan - Renault

"In the car industry, superior design is critical. Product design defines the first impression the customer has about our products. With one look the customer makes their decision about their appeal. Of course, an attractive design is not enough to make a product a success, but it is necessary" - Carlos Ghosn, CEO Nissan

"We don't know where the markets are going, ... We have to observe what's going down, see the trends, look at every vibration on the market, prepare the technology and jump when consumers start to think one way or the other" - Carlos Ghosn, CEO Nissan - Renault

Fiscal year 2009 was a challenging year in the global economy and in the global automotive industry...While we have managed through the financial crisis and recession, we have not compromised our strategic priorities. For example, we have not slowed our investments to contribute to a zero-emission society. When the Nissan LEAF goes on sale this year, the Renault-Nissan Alliance will be the first to mass-market affordable zero-emission vehicles. - Carlos Ghosn, CEO Nissan - Renault

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