DEFINITION by John Elkann
John Elkann is a global automotive manufacturer who wins the title thanks to family ties and a lot of work for his family and businesses. Elkann is the president of Italian automaker Fiat Chrysler, a global automotive brand that also includes Alpha Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Maserati and Ferrari. He is also president of Exor, a holding company that controls Fiat Chrysler and other brands. He is also the owner of the Juventus football club, a popular sports team in Turin, Italy.
BREAKDOWN John Elkann
Born in 1976 in New York, Elkann traveled a lot and lived in several countries, giving him the mastery of at least four languages and many cultural nuances. As quoted in the Financial Times of March 6, 2020, he said, “I was born in New York, then I went to the United Kingdom, then I went to Brazil, then I went to France, then I studied in Italy. My life has always been to be confronted with an environment where I had to adapt. “
As a member of the powerful Agnelli family who controlled the Italian automaker Fiat, Elkann was treated for a helping hand in the family by the direction of his grandfather Gianni Agnelli. This attention prepared him to assume important roles in the business at a young age following the untimely death of his grandfather and the younger son of Angelli’s brother, Umberto Agnelli.
While continuing her studies in industrial engineering, Elkann completed a variety of internships that would allow her to see the inside of the automotive industry. These experiences allowed him to see the factory, marketing and sales aspects of the business and included a headlamp factory in Birmingham, England, a production line in Tychy, Poland, and a car dealership in Lille, in France. By the time he landed a seat on the company’s board of directors in 1997 at the age of 21, Elkann was already writing his undergraduate thesis on electronic auctions as part of the corporate initiatives group at General Electric.
Elkann obtained his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and Management from the Polytechnic of Turin in 2001. He became vice president of Fiat Chrysler in 2004. Although he was raised knowing that a family business was to inherit and manage, Elkann is described as a shy and unobtrusive person who works with others to get a job done. By the time Elkann became vice president, Fiat was suffering from the poor reputation for reliability of its vehicles. Elkann worked closely with management and helped turn the company around.
Elkann became president of the company in 2020 at the age of 36 when Luca Cordero di Montezemolo resigned. President and CEO today and in his early forties, Elkann oversees an automotive empire and is one of the wealthiest men in Italy.