New Chrysler embraces can-do spirit, says head of design Ralph Gilles

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 18, 2011

Ralph Gilles, head of design at Chrysler Group LLC and president of Dodge brand, said that Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne brought a sense of mission to Chrysler that was absent under some of Chrysler's previous owners.

Referring to Chrysler's previous owner, Cerberus Capital Management, Gilles said that private equity has a place, but not in the auto industry.

Marchionne also has taught Gilles' team about accepting challenges, including, in Gilles' case, the task of being an executive.

In the 2011 Automotive News World Congress, Gilles said he has a design background. He never thought of himself as an executive. By his own admission, Gilles is more comfortable wearing jeans and walking around an automotive design studio than running a car company.

However, he has accepted his new job and has developed his own leadership style. Gilles now follows the matrix management style Marchionne brought to Chrysler.

Gilles and his fellow brand bosses all have two jobs: one brand specific and one encompassing all the brands. When asked if a designer can run a car company, Gilles replied yes, as long as he is surrounded by the right people. [via autonews - sub. required]

Topics: chrysler, design

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