Carlos Ghosn Biography

Carlos Ghosn is a renowned Brazilian-French-Lebanese businessman who has made significant contributions to the automotive industry. He is best known for his remarkable turnaround of Nissan, rescuing the company from the brink of bankruptcy and transforming it into one of the most profitable auto makers in the industry. His success with Nissan made him a hero in Japan and even inspired Japanese comics based on his life. However, his life took a dramatic turn when he was arrested in 2018 on charges of breach of trust and financial misconduct. Despite denying the allegations, he became an international fugitive after fleeing to Lebanon in December 2019.

Quick Facts

  • French Celebrities Born In March Age: 69 Years, 69 Year Old Males
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Carole Nahas (m. 2016), Rita Kordahi (m. 1984 – div. 2012), father: Jorge Ghosn, mother: Rose Ghosn, children: Anthony Ghosn, Caroline Ghosn, Maya Ghosn, Nadine Ghosn
  • Born Country: Brazil
  • CEOs
  • French Men
  • Height: 5’7″ (170 cm), 5’7″ Males
  • Ancestry: Lebanese French, Brazilian French, Lebanese Brazilian
  • Notable Alumni: École Des Mines
  • Education: École Polytechnique, École Des Mines
  • Awards: Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic

Childhood & Early Life

Carlos Ghosn was born on 9th March, 1954 in Porto Velho, Brazil to parents – Jorge Ghosn and Rose Jazzar – of Lebanese origin. He spent his early years in Porto Velho and Rio de Janeiro before his mother took him back to Beirut, Lebanon. He received his secondary school education from Collège Notre-Dame de Jamhour in Lebanon. He then earned two engineering degrees from Paris – first from École Polytechnique in 1974 and then from École des Mines in 1978.


In 1978, Carlos Ghosn joined Michelin – the French tyre manufacturer – as a management trainee – and spent the next 18 years of his career serving the company in various capacities and at different locations. In 1981, he was appointed the plant manager of Le Puy-en-Velay, France and three years later became the R&D head of the company’s industrial tyre division. In 1985, he was called upon to turn around the company’s unprofitable Brazilian operation (which was struggling due to Brazil’s hyperinflation) as its COO. He successfully achieved the goal in two years. It was here, while working with French, Brazilian, and other South American nationalities that he developed his cross-cultural management style with a focus on diversity.

After his success in South America, he was made the president and COO of Michelin North America in 1989. Yet again, he successfully carried out the restructuring of the company post its merger with domestic tyre maker, Uniroyal Goodrich Tyre Company. A year later, he was appointed the CEO of Michelin North America.

In 1996, Carlos Ghosn returned to South America as the executive vice president of the money-losing French automaker, Renault. He was responsible for the company’s manufacturing and purchasing, advanced R&D, and powertrain operations. Moreover, he also headed Renault’s Southern Common Market (Mercosur). Carlos Ghosn’s exhaustive restructuring of Renault not only led the company on the path of profitability but also earned him the nickname of Le Cost Cutter.

In 1999, he was sent to Tokyo, Japan, as COO of Nissan following the Renault–Nissan Alliance. There, he faced the challenging task of reviving a company that was burdened with a debt of $20 billion, was regularly making losses, and was close to bankruptcy. Ghosn’s laid out Nissan Revival Plan and accordingly carried out radical structural and corporate cultural changes in the company. He defied the established Japanese business practices, closed five factories, cut 21,000 jobs, and did away with seniority-based promotions. He broke the Japanese keiretsu system by selling off the company’s shares in keiretsu partners, thereby also getting the nickname keiretsu killer. Additionally, he changed the company’s official language to English and brought in top talents from rival Isuzu and Renault, France. Carlos Ghosn had set three years to meet his goals; however, the company began showing profits from the first year itself. By the end of three years in 2002, the company turned out to be one of the most profitable automakers. A year prior to this, he was appointed the CEO of Nissan Motor Company, Ltd and continued in the position till 2017.

Following the success of his first plan, Ghosn set his next three-year plan in motion in 2002. The goals of his plan – Nissan 180 – were again met well ahead of scheduled time. His success was applauded by both the business community and the press alike, and he became a sort of hero in Japan.

In 2005, he was appointed the president and CEO of Groupe Renault, which added yet another feather in his cap. With this appointment, he became the first person in the world to run two Fortune Global 500 companies (Renault and Nissan) at the same time. In 2009, he became the chairman of Groupe Renault. Beginning in 2007, he led the Renault–Nissan Alliance into the zero-emission electric car market and within a decade conquered it, leaving behind other electric car manufacturers like Tesla. Launched in 2010, the Nissan Leaf was the world’s first affordable zero-emission car and has, over the period of time, become the world’s bestselling electric vehicle.

In 2013, he was appointed the chairman of AvtoVAZ, the Russian automobile manufacturer, and continued in the position till June 2016. In 2016 again, he assumed the chairmanship of Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors. In 2017, he resigned as the CEO of Nissan but continued to be its chairman. He also continued as the chairman of Mitsubishi as well as the chairman, president, and CEO of Groupe Renault.

Arrest & Escape

In November 2018, Carlos Ghosn was arrested on charges of underreporting his compensation and using company assets for personal uses. Consequently, in the same month, he was dismissed as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi’s board. In 2019, he had to retire as the chairman and CEO of Renault. He was initially put in solitary confinement in Tokyo for 130 days and later under house arrest. In December 2019, he escaped first to Istanbul and then to Beirut, Lebanon. Ghosn has pleaded innocence and accused Nissan of fabricating the charges against him, with the help of Japanese authorities, so as to prevent him from further integrating Renault and Nissan. In Lebanon, he has launched a business program at Holy Spirit University of Kaslik and manages a vineyard, Ixsir. Carlos Ghosn has authored a few books including “Shift: Inside Nissan’s Historic Revival” (2005), “The Alliance” (2019), and “Le temps de la vérité” (The Time for the Truth – 2020).

Awards & Achievements

The Fortune Magazine named him Asia Businessman of the Year (2002), Man of the Year (Asia-2003), and one of the 10 most powerful business leaders outside the U.S (2003). He was named CNBC Asia Business Leader of the Year (2011) too. In 2002, he was honored by the French government that made him Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (Knight of the Legion of Honour). In 2004, he was awarded Japan’s Blue Ribbon Medal, and the same year was also inducted into Japan Automotive Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was appointed the Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 2017, Lebanon’s national post office issued a collectible stamp to honor his achievements.

Family & Personal Life

Carlos Ghosn married Rita Kordahi in 1984. They have four children – Caroline, Nadine, Maya, and Anthony. The marriage ended in 2012. In 2016, he married for a second time to Carole Nahas. Ghosn speaks four languages – French, Portuguese, English, and Arabic and is also knowledgeable in Japanese.

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