It must be tough when you haven't been on the job a year yet and the rumor mill is already reporting that you're about to be history.
That's the way things seem to work at a troubled company, and Fiat Auto CEO Herbert Demel ought to be accustomed to it by now.
In the 11 1/2 months since Demel left Magna Steyr to take over at Fiat Auto, he's had to put up with a lot. First, everybody in the business knew that he was second choice for the job. Former Ford exec Martin Leach was top pick, but that deal fell through due to the troublesome non-compete clause in Leach's employment contract with his former employer.
When it came to filling in the slots on his own staff's organizational chart, Demel took his time, perhaps because there was some reluctance to join Fiat, where the future is uncertain.
Then there's Fiat's relationship with General Motors, which both sides swear works great on the operational level. There's just that sticky, little matter of whether GM will ever be required to buy Fiat Auto if Fiat group exercises its put option.
Smart money says no, but who knows for sure? A year-long legal truce that deferred resolution expires next month.
In March, Demel stripped away some of the autonomy from Fiat Auto's automotive units.
Then in August, Demel and his team decided on yet another reorganization, to further decentralize management and take the organizational chart back to the good, old days. It dismantled the business-unit model.
That kind of unsettled environment invites rumors, especially in Italy.
That's why now, 2 1/2 months later, there are more unsubstantiated rumors that a management reorganization is at hand. The rumors have been denied, but they aren't likely to subside until Fiat Auto is back in the black.
Demel says that will happen in 2006.
It could be a long couple of years for the rumor mill in Turin.
Ed Lapham is executive editor of Automotive News. E-mail him at