Carlos Ghosn: Oh, the Hubris!

There is little question that Carlos Ghosn, the former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Nissan, has experienced a stunning fall from iconic businessman to a jail cell in Tokyo. His arrest was based on charges of his failure to report income and the use of company funds for personal expenses.

Collecting information over the past month since his arrest, the Barometer feels the “deja vu all over again.” From Enron to WorldCom to Madoff to Musk to Kozlowski and Tyco. The pattern emerges again. Brilliant and visionary business people with ideas, drive, and stunning success. Wealth beyond even their dreams. The bizarre expenses, and then the fall, sometimes through financial collapse, sometimes through arrest, and sometimes both.

In Ghosn’s case, a recap of his lifestyle as CEO:

His compensation was 11 times that of the chairman of Toyota
Lear-jet, worldwide travel
He commissioned a sculpture for Nissan headquarters by a Lebanese artist and friend for $888,000 following his earning the moniker of “Le Cost Killer”
His second wedding was na extravagant event with Marie-Antionette costumes (oh, and the cake for eating too, lots of cake)
While driving a Porsche through he streets of Tokyo, he grazed a couple and injured them (not driving a Nissan was a bit of a problem for the Japanese)
Shareholders tried to rein in compensation, and Mr. Ghosn dismissed their arguments

More than the financials, more than management discussion, more than any financial analysis — the behavior patterns of CEOs offer the real story of where a company (and the CEO) are headed.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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