When Alan Mulally got the top job at Ford last week, critics were quick to snipe about his lack of auto experience. They might look to Europe, where a soon-to-depart CEO has shown you don't have to have gasoline in your veins to run an auto company.
PSA-Peugeot Citroen CEO Jean-Martin Folz, 59, who's retiring in January, has been one of the world's acclaimed auto chiefs for nearly a decade. He avoided the takeover mentality that wounded other CEOs of his era - such as Juergen Schrempp, Jacques Nasser and Bernd Pischetsrieder.
Folz instead set the standard of strategic cooperation. For example, PSA and Ford have collaborated in Europe on turbodiesel engines.
Folz, who came to PSA in 1996 from the sugar refining industry, became CEO in October 1997. And he brought fresh perspective. He ordered Peugeot and Citroen cars that share platforms to be built in the same plants. And he reversed the strategy by which Peugeot and Citroen cars looked the same on the outside but had different parts under the skin.
PSA missed earnings goals this summer, and maybe that's a factor in the timing of Folz's departure. But he leaves a pretty good track record for an outsider.