Does This Man Have a Shot at Leading Ford or GM?

source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mhincha/

Every ambitious executive wants to be top dog of the company. However, if there’s no way the chief executive is going anywhere, it’s time to look elsewhere for the glory of being Number One. Carlos Tavares, chief operating officer of Renault SA, realizes his opportunity may be greater in the U.S. In an interview with Bloomberg, Tavares said he’s set his sights on American automakers out of mere practicality.

Known for his excellent work at Nissan’s (NSANY.PK) North American division as well as his COO role for Renault, Tavares told the news outlet he doesn’t have much hope for getting on top of his own company. CEO Carlos Ghosn is only 59 years old. Compared to Alan Mulally, the chief executive of Ford (NYSE:F) at 68, or Dan Akerson, GM’s (NYSE:GM) chief executive at the age of 64, the 55-year-old  Tavares sees more potential for succession on this side of the pond.

Ford has gone on the record saying Mulally’s wildly successful run will continue until at least the end of next year. Meanwhile, Dan Akerson’s stewardship is also scoring very high among industry analysts and investors, and there hasn’t been any announcement about an imminent departure there, either. Nonetheless, Tavares is betting that the day would come sooner at a U.S. automaker than at Renault.

“We have a big leader and he is here to stay,” Tavares told Bloomberg, in a comment that could be taken to suggest U.S. automakers have a different situation. Tavares noted he hadn’t been in touch with either of the reigning U.S. automakers, and Renault reps told the news agency that anything in the press was pure speculation on Tavares’s part. However, there is reason to believe Tavares would be considered by both companies, based on his turnaround performance at Nissan.

Both GM and Ford have turnaround stories of their own to tell within the past five years, during which the two companies had their current chief executives at the helm. Additionally, the list of lieutenants in the automakers’ chains of command would serve to provide numerous internal candidates. Tavares has big ambition, and it takes that level of passion to match the Renault exec’s strong track record in the industry.

“My experience would be good for any car company,” Tavares told Bloomberg. “Why not GM? I would be honored to lead a company like GM.” They are many auto execs who would say the same thing.

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