Late Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne was paid respects last Friday as the Italian city of Turin hosted the first of two public memorial services for the deceased 66-year-old business executive. The other public memorial service will be held at FCA’s North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan on September 27th.
Marchionne passed away in July at the age of 66, after suffering complications during a surgical procedure to address a sarcoma in his shoulder. He was promptly replaced as CEO of the Italian-American automaker by Mike Manley – formerly head of the automaker’s Jeep and Ram Trucks brands.
More than 2,000 people were in attendance as Sergio Marchionne was remembered at a Turin cathedral, including politicians, FCA plant workers, business executives, and ordinary city dwellers, according to Reuters. Among the list of VIPs were Manley, Ferrari’s new CEO Louis Camilleri, and numerous members of Fiat’s founding Agnelli family, including FCA Chairman John Elkann. Elkann was responsible in 2003 for recruiting Marchionne to Fiat from another Agnelli-controlled company: testing and certification outfit SGS.
“You’ve taught all of us to think differently, to have courage to change and to do, and not to be afraid,” Elkann said in an address. “Dear friend, rest in peace.”
Sergio Marchionne, who was appointed CEO of a struggling Fiat 14 years ago, was unmatched in the world of automotive industry executives for his vision and pragmatism. He led the purchase of a controlling stake in the bankrupt Chrysler from the United States government, seeing opportunity where most only saw liability, and later oversaw the merging of the two companies to create the world’s seventh-largest automaker by global volume: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Under his leadership, the company shed all of its industrial debt, and created greater value for shareholders by spinning off FCA’s Ferrari and CNH Industrial subsidiaries.
Those maneuvers helped the once-shaky Fiat to grow in value tenfold, leaving behind a healthy, profitable company with a promising future.