My real encounter with Carlos Ghosn was back in 2013 when he accepted to film with us for the business profile program, a series of episodes of exclusive interviews that shed the light on the real persona behind some of the best success stories in business and finance in the Middle East.
The plan was to shadow Ghosh for about four days. A plan that took us months of communication with his French PA to confirm and finally pin him down for interviews in Paris.
“Mr. Ghosn doesn’t have time for such demanding interviews, he has no time,” I recall her saying.
Finally in Paris and my first filming session with him was scheduled during an early morning at the Renault headquarters, just before his two or three hour long board meeting. And there he was standing at the main door, sharply dressed in a bespoke suit, and fully awake. He puts the mic on and off we go. Not one fault; He observes everything around him and that was my first impression, a perfectionist.
His office is a dream to any car enthusiast. Framed pictures down the hallway of him with top world leaders from kings to presidents to art legends, summarizing his impressive 30 years journey in the car making industry. He is surely a proud man of his achievement.
Shadowing Carlos left the whole team quite impressed. We all agreed that this man lives for the love of cars, passion, attention to details and to every single engineering detail that goes into the making of a good reliable affordable car. Surely his studies at the top engineering school, l’École Polytechnique, molded such an extraordinary man.
The man we met didn’t seem like someone who would end his successful career arrested in Japan with corruption and tax evasion charges. Thus, let’s take a minute and dig further into why is this all happening and why now?
Ghosn is one of the most powerful figures in the auto industry. He’s highly regarded by his competitors. He has overseen the Renault-Nissan alliance and made the biggest breakthrough in the history of the auto industry to date.
His unexpected arrest came as a result of an internal investigation after receiving a whistleblower earlier this year. But many questions have been raised. How can the company not be aware of his pay? Is it possible for a company not to be aware of how much he’d been paid? How will it affect the alliance? And how will it affect the plan of a merger in a market already under pressure? Did the Japanese opposition to a merger and culture gap and differences sparked this arrest? And will the feud intensify to a government level.
But the most important question is can Carlos Ghosn be easily replaced? And will he come back from this?
The story is yet to unfold and the French government will stand by its national hero.
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