Michael Colleran, 60
U.S. senior vice president of sales and marketing, Nissan Motor Co.
Military branch: Marines
Michael Colleran spent nearly a decade in the U.S Marine Corps, during which he did tours of duty in northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Three decades later, the retired captain is leading a different set of troops in a high-stakes battle.
Colleran has spent more than a year orchestrating a turnaround of Nissan Motor Co.’s U.S. business. Under his watch, Nissan has worked to mend frayed relations with dealers and transform its product portfolio from one of the industry’s stalest to one of its freshest.
As the brand’s U.S. senior vice president of sales and marketing, Colleran also is steering Nissan’s pivot away from a market share-driven sales strategy to one focused on driving profits.
Colleran described his military service as a “foundational experience” that has instilled in him discipline, a trait that serves the executive well in his current role.
“Discipline is necessary right now, given where Nissan was,” Colleran said. “I think they were looking for a leader that knew the [industry] landscape but also had the sense of discipline to fix the business.”
Developing focus and building trust are key traits for a leader on the battlefield and in the office.
“When people can pick two or three things to do — and sometimes two or three things not to do — they can achieve more,” Colleran said. “If you’ve got a well-trained team, trust them, let them run. They’ll knock down walls for you.”
Military experience has equipped Colleran with the nerve to handle curveballs, such as the pandemic and the supply chain disruption roiling the auto industry.
“Once you’ve been in a situation where life hangs in the balance, you tend to gain some perspective [that] things ... could be worse,” he said. “We’ll get through it, the sun will rise.”
— Urvaksh Karkaria