GENEVA -- For several years at major auto shows, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has invited media to freewheeling Q&A sessions. Ghosn continued the tradition here today in an unscripted, open-ended session with about 75 international journalists.
No opening statement. No press release. Just plunge right in.
This sort of wide-open transparency is hardly the norm among automotive CEOS, particularly since several new arrivals to the industry have balked at such traditions: showing up at auto shows or allowing anything other than the most cautious access to the media.
They should re-think that.
Frankly, nothing establishes a CEO's bona fides like demonstrating complete command of the details of a far-flung organization.
That's what Ghosn did in Geneva, unflappably answering questions about the European industry -- "I consider that between now and 2016, there is no good news in Europe. The only question is how bad it's going to be." He also took up the yen, the revived Datsun brand, China's electric-vehicle policies, Renault's partnership with Daimler, and local conditions ranging from Thailand to Russia to the United States.
I know this may seem like special pleading from a quote-hungry journalist. I suppose it is.
But I still think that PR people who want to shield their boss from unexpected, out-of-left field questions may be doing the CEO a disservice. In Ghosn's case, it's his very ability to handle these kinds of queries that makes him impressive.