A second memorial service for late Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne was held in Auburn Hills, Michigan on Thursday, but unlike the one held in Turin, Italy, this one was closed to the public. Thousands of FCA employees observed the service, gathered within the four-story Tech Plaza at the FCA Chrysler Technology Center or at one of the Center’s six viewing locations, while FCA Chairman John Elkann, current FCA CEO Mike Manley, and other speakers paid tribute to the business heavyweight who brought Fiat and Chrysler together in the aughts.
“He taught us to think differently,” Elkann said of his friend and colleague. “To have the courage to change and act. To be unafraid. He taught us that the most important question to ask ourselves at the end of every day is whether we have been able to change something for the better. And Sergio did so, wherever his work took him and in the lives of so many people.”
Mike Manley, who succeeded Sergio Marchionne in July after the FCA board learned Marchionne had suffered complications during surgery, remarked that “working with Sergio was a business education that you could not buy regardless of how much you wanted to spend.”
“What I did not say publicly,” he continued, “was that for me, it was also a journey of personal growth – he gave me the space to understand who I am and pushed me to explore my full potential. Inheriting such a legacy is no easy task, but one thing I will not try to do is be Sergio. He was and will always remain a unique leader… The greatest tribute we can pay Sergio is to continue doing what we do and – as he taught us – constantly strive to do it better.”
In honor of Fiat Chrysler’s late Italian-Canadian CEO, John Elkann announced that the FCA Student Achievement Awards – a worldwide scholarship program started in 1996 – would be renamed the “Sergio Marchionne Student Achievement Awards”. The program each year helps support roughly 2,000 young people in high school, college, or university as they continue their studies.
“[Sergio] set us a powerful example through his humanity, his determination never to accept the status quo, never to be satisfied with good enough and never settling for mediocrity,” Elkann said. “As we come to an end to this Memorial – of who to me was a true friend and whom I miss very much – I hope we can all find some comfort in knowing that his example is something we will continue to carry with us.”