With Fiat now in control of Chrysler, CEO Sergio Marchionne is moving in and taking charge (Wall St. Journal: Fiat CEO Sets New Tone at Chrysler). Marchionne is situating himself with the engineers rather than taking the usual spot in the executive suite, and he’s told staffers to expect to come to work seven days a week “for the forseeable future.” It may seem a bit galling to Americans to have a Southern European arrive to straighten out a capitalist enterprise and to instill a new work ethic, but Marchionne doesn’t really fit that stereotype.
He does fit another one, however:
Running Chrysler also may force Mr. Marchionne to make another change. A heavy smoker, he is used to lighting up regularly at work. But Michigan law restricts smoking in the workplace.
A few years ago I was working with an Italian cardiac technology company and was somewhat shocked when I visited their offices and met a group of chain-smoking cardiologists. I asked the owner of the company –also an Italian cardiologist, but a non-smoker– about how this could be. He told me cardiologists in Italy were known as big smokers, but that oncologists and pathologists were even more so. His explanation was they were fatalistic after so much exposure to death. I have no idea if his observations are borne out by the statistics, but it’s something that made a deep impression.
Restrictions on public smoking in Italy have been implemented since that time, and I understand they’ve made an impact.
In any case, here’s where Chrysler has something to give back.
No word in the paper on whether a bottle of wine at lunch is now ok in Auburn Hills, MI, though.June 19, 2009