In the last 12 months, Nissan has been a ship trying to find its way through a storm.
The fall from grace of their leader, Carlos Ghosn, has been very public. The fall of the man once seen and promoted as the savior of the global Nissan brand and the architect of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has reverberated throughout the organization. There were many reports of how autocratic his rule was, and unsurprisingly our attention was diverted from the strengths and ambitions of the company and its products.
His successor, Hiroto Saikawa, fared no better and had to resign following problems with supposedly unauthorized financial compensation; similar issues to Ghosn, and amidst profits being almost wiped out.
Beginning today, there's a new man in charge of Nissan, and his name is Makoto Uchida.
Life will not be easy for the new CEO who has taken the reins of the company yesterday, December 1, but he won't be alone. Uchida will lead a three-member executive team that includes new Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ashwani Gupta (who has just resigned his post at Alliance member Mitsubishi), as well as senior Nissan executive Jun Seki as Vice Chief Operating Officer (Vice COO).
But what can the new CEO and his team bring to Nissan? In a live press briefing earlier this afternoon, Uchida vowed to make some changes in Nissan's corporate culture, particularly when it comes to empowering their people.
“I trust my team, I will empower my team, and build a one team spirit,” said the new CEO of Nissan.
Nissan, under Ghosn, was known for the autocratic-like structure wherein what Ghosn says goes. An insider told AutoIndustriya that any employee who opposed new directives (i.e. mandating new suppliers) were sidelined or even dismissed. Uchida wants to reverse that, and build a company where team member opinions are welcome and operations are transparent for all.
According to Uchida, issues with regards to the then-new corporate culture issues arose, particularly with unachievable or overambitions goals. Uchida said that in order to try and meet those goals, their people tended to say they can do it when in reality they could not. That also led them to pursue short term gains. One instance he cited was the issues surrounding the final inspection of cars in the Japan; that issue produced problems with compliance with the Japanese government. The other issue was how incentives were offered to try and meet those goals.
“Excessive incentives undermined our brand power and profitability.” said Nissan's CEO about how the brand's reputation was damaged.
Apart from rebuilding the culture in Nissan, Uchida says that they will develop a new business plan that he will personally oversee. Performance recovery is at the top of the list, and the CEO says he will maximize the synergies within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to do so. The new Nissan CEO also said that they already have a blueprint for the future which is to develop new products that can be bought by customers at the right time and price, with new technologies, and an emphasis on Nissan Intelligent Mobility.
The CEO cited how he will use his experiences from the time he spent in a trading company which was Nissho Iwai under Sojitz Corporation. In fact, Uchida spent some time assigned as an executive in Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation when Sojitz was still a shareholder of the company. But more than anything, Uchida says he wants to build a new culture in the company he now leads, up to and including a new code of conduct.
“I want our employees to feel proud that they are working for Nissan. My mission is to bring together the capabilities of Nissan people together to create a strong driving force for the company,” said Makoto Uchida, Nissan CEO.