Corvinus Executive MBA

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The Talent Management Award: Carlos Ghosn

2015. június 08. - Kevin Jackson

Rather than hand out an award for delegation, I have chosen to create one for talent management instead. Companies of all sizes have always faced the tough challenge of attracting, developing, and retaining talent. Today, talent development has reached a whole new level, as successful business leaders at international companies must now have a global mindset and be comfortable with multi-cultural environments. Carlos Ghosn is the French, Lebanese, Brazilian Chairman and CEO of both Renault and Nissan. As the architect of the Renault Nissan Alliance, he has demonstrated that he is one of the world’s best at global talent management.

The talent management system created by Ghosn dates back to the radical changes he made in Japan after the Renault Nissan merger. One of his first moves was to eliminate the seniority and age based promotion habits at Nissan. Lifetime employment was eliminated and everyone was required to be accountable for his or her own performances. Another move was to change Nissan’s official language to English in order to better facilitate global strategy sessions. As Ghosn pressed on with his Nissan Revival Plan, he was labeled as the “keiretsu” killer by those who were threatened by these changes. The results, however, speak for themselves as Nissan did return to profitability as old school employees were replaced with those who share Ghosn’s global vision.

Ghosn himself has recently an article entitled “How to Recruit and Retain the Best Talent.” He cites an interesting statistic saying “Among Fortune Global 500 CEOs today, 14 percent lead companies headquartered outside of their country of birth – a percentage that will continue to rise in the coming decades." Another telling statistic he uses is that “In the American tech sector, 75 percent of companies founded by U.S. venture capitalists have at least one foreign-born CEO, CTO or head engineer.” In order to build a successful, global talent management system, Ghosn lives by these three Golden Rules:

  • Hire the best and challenge them: It is never enough to just hire the best; your system has to constantly challenge them to become even better.
  • Leverage your partners to ensure a broad and deep talent pool: Extend your talent development system to your entire organization and its partners to cast the widest net possible.
  • Shatter the glass ceiling: Never limit the mobility within an organization based on gender, race, age, or nationality.

There are many who link the failure of the DaimlerChrysler-Mitsubishi merger to a lack of global leadership and a total misunderstanding of cultural differences. I completely agree with this assessment. In contrast, the success of the Renault Nissan merger has been largely because of the transformational leadership abilities of Carlos Ghosn. His keen understanding of cross-cultural differences has enabled him to build a system where Renault and Nissan employees complement each other rather than contradict each other. Carlos Ghosn gets the Talent Management Award for his incredible ability to build and maintain a global talent system that keeps the Renault Nissan Alliance competitive in one of the world’s toughest industries.

For more information on Leadership, please refer to the following articles:

How to Recruit and Retain the Best Talent, LinkedIn Post, Carlos Ghosn, February 19th, 2015:

Celebrating the Best! CNBC’s Asia Business Leaders Awards recognize the top leaders in Asia.

Carlos Ghosn: “the four global socio-economic mega-trends reshaping the auto industry”, Eurotechnology Japan July 17th, 2014


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