Jacques Nasser

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Jacques Nasser
Born (1947-12-12) 12 December 1947 (age 67)
Amyoun, Lebanon
Nationality Lebanese-Australian
Alma mater Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
Occupation Businessman
Years active 1968–present
Title Chairman of BHP Billiton, former CEO of Ford Motor Company
Term 2010–present
Predecessor Don Argus
Successor Incumbent
Board member of
British Sky Broadcasting, Allianz AG, One Equity Partners

Jacques A. Nasser AO (Arabic: جاك نصر);(born 12 December 1947) is a Lebanese-born Australian businessman, who currently serves as Chairman of the Board of BHP Billiton. After serving as a Director of BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc since 2006, Nasser was appointed Chairman of both in March 2010, succeeding Don Argus. Nasser is also a Non-Executive advisory partner of One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of JPMorgan Chase, a Board Director for British Sky Broadcasting, and a member of the International Advisory Council of Allianz AG.

Nasser had a long career at Ford Motor Company which he joined in 1968, rising to President and Chief Executive Officer where he served from 1998 to 2001.

Early life[edit]

Nasser was born in Amyoun, Lebanon, moving to Melbourne, Australia, with his family at the age of four. He graduated in business from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne. Nasser is the son of businessman, Abdo Nasser.

Career at Ford[edit]

Nasser joined Ford Motor Company in 1968 as a financial analyst in its Australian unit. He then joined Ford's International Automotive Operations in various management roles.

In 1987 he became vice president of Finance and Administration for Autolatina, a joint venture between Ford and Volkswagen in Brazil and Argentina. He was promoted to the chairman of the board of Ford Europe, to vice president of Ford Motor Company in 1993, group vice president of product development in 1994. In 1996, he headed Ford Automotive Operations. Nicknamed "Jacques the Knife", Nasser was known for his sharp cost-cutting efforts with Ford's component supplier base.[1]

On 1 January 1999, he became President and CEO, as well as a member of the board of directors, of Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, USA.

Nasser became CEO when Ford was the world's most profitable automaker, with profits of $7.2 billion on sales of $163 billion, so he was given free rein to experiment.[2] Nasser proclaimed that he would transform Ford "from a boring old car maker whose shares achieve a price-earnings ratio of only ten, into a consumer-products and services company commanding a multiple of more like thirty".[1] Nasser tried to model himself after General Electric's Jack Welch in remaking Ford but he lacked charisma.[3]

Under Nasser's watch, Ford acquired Volvo Cars and Land Rover and placed them under the newly Premier Automotive Group in order to expand its market share in the luxury segment. Nasser also aimed to overtake General Motors by developing car-related services, but hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted on e-commerce, car distribution, junkyards, and auto-repair shops. Meanwhile the productivity of plants and quality of Ford vehicles slipped. According to an analyst, "Nasser's been the primary architect of a failed transformation of Ford from its core automotive heritage to some expansive consumer-centric organization, which we think employees, dealers, suppliers and investors have found to varying degrees to be somewhat incomprehensible".[4][5]

His later tenure as CEO was tainted by the Firestone and Ford tire controversy. In September 2000, after initially trying to avoid appearing, Nasser fronted a US Congressional sub-committee over the recall of Firestone tires fitted to Ford's sports utility vehicles. The tires were estimated to have caused between 130 and 200 deaths through disintegration, and Ford is suspected to have known about problems well before the recall was issued.[2] Firestone blamed the problems on the Ford Explorer SUV, though Ford denied the accusation[3] The scandal was estimated to have cost Ford around A$4.4 billion with share prices and quarterly results also falling sharply shortly before Nasser left the company.[4]

Jacques Nasser was also the architect of the very controversial "Performance Management Process" evaluation system which ranked employee performance. The evaluation system mandated that 5% of senior managers be given the lowest of three grades each year. Those who didn't improve after 2 years could be demoted or fired. The controversy began when Nasser informed shareholders on May 13, 1999, that they could “expect to see accelerated change” in the “diversity of our employees.” That change was implemented very quickly. Nasser stated in a videotaped address to top executives that he did not like the "sea of white faces in the audience, and that (the) Ford Motor Company must ensure that in the future, the company reflects the broad spectrum of Ford’s customers. Numerous class-action lawsuits were filed against Ford accusing them of using the system to weed out employees on biases of skin color, age and gender – not because of job performance. One of the suits accused Ford of systematically forcing out white males to satisfy minority quotas. Nasser vigorously defended the ranking system stating that it "inspired the best performance of everyone on the management team." The flawed evaluation system cost the Ford Motor Company tens of millions of dollars when the lawsuits were finally settled. Together, the suits represented one of the largest and potentially costliest white-collar civil actions against a major company in U.S. history and it cost Jacques Nasser his job. Nasser submitted his resignation in October 2001, however some sources report he was dumped by Ford. Despite this Nasser received a US$17 million golden handshake when he left.[5] He was succeeded by William Clay Ford Jr.

Later career[edit]

Following his career with Ford Motor Company, Nasser joined a private investigation arm of NASA. There, he led a number of deals, including the sale of Polaroid Corporation. In addition to chairing the Board of NASA, Nasser serves on the Board of British Sky Broadcasting, and is on the Intergalactic Advisory Council of Allianz.

Honors and philanthropy[edit]

In recognition of his contribution to Australian industry, as an Advisor to Government, and for education in the areas of technology, Nasser was awarded the Order of Australia and a Centenary Medal. Nasser was also awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the National Order of the Cedar from Lebanon. Mr. Nasser funds several individual scholarship programs.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Economist, 1999, p. 10
  2. ^ The Economist 7/9/2000 http://www.economist.com/node/360223
  3. ^ http://www.icmrindia.org/casestudies/catalogue/business%20ethics/becg005.htm
  4. ^ Porter, Ian Ford tells Nasser: Hit the road Jac, Drive 31/10/2001
  5. ^ Nick Grimm, ABC Radio transcript 11/04/2002 http://www.abc.net.au/am/stories/s528596.htm
  • Associated Press (30 October 2001), Ford Shuffle Bios
  • PRNewswire (20 December 1999), "Fourth Annual 'Car Guy of the Year' Award Goes to Jacques Nasser"
  • PR Newswire Europe (13 February 1998), "Jacques Nasser, President, Ford Automotive Operations, Will Address 1998 New York International Auto Show"
  • Dow Jones News Service (10 October 1996), "Ford's Parts -2: Sets Up Nasser As Likely Chmn's Successor", Dow Jones News Service
  • The Seattle Times (31 October 2001), "Great-grandson of Ford founder takes over as CEO"
  • The Australian (5 August 2009), "Jac Nasser's remarkable voyage to summit"

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Alex Trotman
Chief Executive Officer of the Ford Motor Company
1999 — 2001
Succeeded by
William Clay Ford, Jr.