Posted by: David Kiley on January 9, 2007
Maybe it’s the five year contract he got last summer. But Chrysler CEO Tom Lasorda gets my vote for best class act under pressure. He worked his way through a painful skit Sunday with celebrity chef Bobby Flay to introduce the new minivan. Lasorda struggled to put chocolate icing on a cake and then was subjected to hot peppers, all at 10:30AM. Meantime, his boss, Dieter Zetsche was down the hall at the Mercedes stand sitting above the coolness of the ice skating rink set up at the Mercedes stand, watching skaters glide around elegantly while the company showed off some all-wheel drive vehicles.
Lasorda is not only amidst a restructuring plan in the wake of a terrible sales and profit year (the cause of which seems to be in large part due to the sales strategy hatched by Zetsche’s handpicked sales and marketing chief Joe Eberhard), but he is having to endure the whispers and chatter that former Chrysler COO Wolfgang Bernhard will be recruited after he leaves Volkswagen to come back to Chrysler as CEO.
I’ve seen other CEOs working under a cloud like this—-Jac Nasser, Jim Holden, Bernd Pischetsrieder come to mind. But Lasorda, while at times looking ill at ease in the CEO role, is as good natured in his interviews as I’ve ever seen a guy. He’s not defensive or resentful of the atmosphere around him. He did say, however, as Flayt was forcing the hot stuff on him…”Dieter ought to be up here with me for this.” True. How every true.