Sergio Marchionne, Vincent GeorgieUWindsor alumnus Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, speaks with business professor Vincent Georgie during last week’s Georgie-Odette Leadership Symposium. Photo courtesy FCA.

Visit by Fiat Chrysler CEO leaves impression on students

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne spoke to several hundred people — including business students and alumni — at the annual Georgie-Odette Leadership Symposium last Thursday at the Odette School of Business.

Marchionne, a dual Canadian-Italian citizen, completed an MBA and a BComm at UWindsor. He is a barrister, solicitor and chartered accountant who majored in philosophy and also received an honorary Doctor of Laws from UWindsor.

He told the Odette audience that the university provided a “phenomenal” experience: “I spent the best years of my life at this school.”

Marchionne also met with a small group of engineering students during a tour of the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation. He again fondly recalled his days as a UWindsor business student and told the eager graduate students in the Windsor-Torino-FCA exchange program to slow down and enjoy this “intellectually stimulating” part of their lives.

Benedetto Giubilato, a Sicilian student who has one year left in the UWindsor-Politecnico di Torino dual degree automotive master’s program, said he was interested in learning about Marchionne’s experience as a student.

“He said you have to build your character and you have to build it with many bricks — not just engineering,” Giubilato said. “I mean, if Sergio Marchionne told me, it means it works.”

Marchionne began his professional career in 1983 at Deloitte & Touche. When Giubilato asked him how his life changed when he entered the workforce, the room erupted with laughter.

“Enjoy this place; I mean that sincerely,” Marchionne said. “Make the best of it. You will remember this very fondly.”

Marchionne helped establish the Windsor-Torino exchange program, a first-of-its-kind joint degree agreement that allows students to complete two master’s degrees from UWindsor and the Politecnico di Torino in Italy while contributing to cutting-edge research and development projects at FCA.