Is it fair to compare Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Auto CEO and an automotive industry newcomer, to a veteran like Carlos Ghosn, the supremo of both Nissan and Renault?
After three hours face to face with the chain-smoking, tie-allergic Marchionne, the answer in my humble opinion is yes.
Listen to Marchionne and you quickly perceive his Ghosn-like absolute determination - almost fanaticism - to fix the business he runs.
Another parallel is the pair's long working hours. In Japan, Ghosn was known as "Mr. 7-11" for his 16-hour days at Nissan headquarters. Marchionne spends even more time in the office, about 19 hours a day, six days a week.
In October 1999, I listened to Ghosn present his Nissan Revival Plan in Tokyo. I was impressed by his observation that Nissan had lost its "sense of urgency" about fixing its problems.
Marchionne has a similar approach. In just nine months he has dismantled an organization where senior executives had become so used to losing money that there was no sense of urgency that the company had to turn itself around.
Every three years, Ghosn sets new, more ambitious targets for Nissan. He doesn't want his troops to lose their edge.
I feel the same drive in Marchionne. Fiat Auto will probably be profitable in the fourth quarter this year, after 17 consecutive quarters in the red. But Marchionne wants more. He is scared that employees will relax if Fiat Auto returns to profit.
At Fiat Auto, people used to say the next volume car would save them. Sometimes new models worked, such as the Uno and the first Punto. Sometimes, the models flopped, such as the Stilo. And nobody ever cared about the rest of the lineup - because the next shiny new "savior" car was coming.
Marchionne says exactly the opposite. It is true, he says, that the Grande Punto is crucial to a Fiat turnaround, but he warns the car is just a quarter of total Fiat volume.
In the past, when a Fiat unit missed its target, a new divisional chief was appointed. But Marchionne broke that pattern by taking over Fiat Auto himself. He knows if he fails to fix the auto business, he will be out as group CEO too.
E-mail Chief Correspondent Luca Ciferri at .