Competitiveness and Performance

Gary S. Vasilash

The situation of Carlos Tavares, who, until last week, was chief operating officer of Renault Group, puts a different spin on the old phrase, “Watch what you ask for because you might get it.”

In the case of Tavares, 55, the word seems to be that after Bloomberg ran a story in which he was quoted as saying he wouldn’t mind running General Motors or Ford, he was in an untenable position.

On August 29, Renault sent out a news release that reads, in part, “M. Carlos Tavares has mutually agreed with Renault to cease as of today his functions of Chief Operating Officer in order to pursue other personal projects.”

Presumably those projects include updating his resume.

What he got was a cardboard box for his stuff.


Ghosn and Tavares

That’s Carlos Ghosn in the center and Carlos Tavares on the right. In happier times. (The Renault 2012 financial results press conference.) Dominique Thormann, Renault CFO, on the left.

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Renault Group, 59, took on Tavares’s duties.

The company has announced that it plans to have a reorganization in its ranks at the top, adding two executive roles to the already-existing Finance, Human Resources and CEO offices. There will be a Chief Competitive Officer and a Chief Performance Officer.

The Chief Competitive Officer would oversee product and programs, design, engineering, quality, IS/IT, purchasing, manufacturing, and supply chain.

The Chief Performance Officer would primarily be in charge of the performance in the regions that the company serves—Europe, Euromed-Africa, Eurasia, Americas, Asia-Pacific—and sales & marketing.

The Chief Competitive Officer would, according to Renault, work to “reinforce the development of an attractive range of products, to improve product competitiveness, optimize total delivered cost, increase quality, and reinforce product profitability.”

The Chief Performance Officer would work “to deliver the company’s revenue, market share and sales profitability targets.”

One way of looking at the two is to say that, in effect, the Chief Operating Officer role has been cut in two.

But what’s more germane and more interesting about this is the fact that there are two key things that Ghosn is emphasizing here with these two titles: Competitiveness and Performance.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what it is all about?

Credit must be given to Ghosn for elevating these two aspects to high visibility and responsibility.

And credit might go to Tavares, too, as perhaps had he not left, this wouldn’t have happened.

Here’s hoping that other OEMs look long and hard at Competitiveness and Performance.

They matter.