The senior executive
Elios Pascual, CEO Renault VI bus division Born: 14 December 1940, Rivesaltes, France
Elios Pascual's life would make a good novel. He was born in a concentration camp set up by the French Vichy Government for Spanish republican refugees like his father. Today, Pascual is a senior executive at Renault and head of the bus division's new joint venture with Iveco.
But he has never forgotten his roots or the ideals of his father, a miner and a farm worker who was a political activist in his native Catalonia.
'The respect for other people, humanism, equality between men, the sharing of land - make up the culture of the Spanish anarcho-syndicalists,' says Pascual. 'I will never give up on this. It's the reason why I'm a left-winger deep at heart.'
Pascual is a small, slim man, full of energy. 'I do everything to excess, but you can't do anything good without passion,' he says.
He was a clever student. In 1962, he passed the examination to enter Ecole des Arts et Metiers, a famous French engineering school. 'For a worker's son to enter 'les Arts' was like reaching Nirvana,' he says.
But his family's political background dogged his career. In 1969, he was fired by the state-owned defense company SEPR.
'After the May 1968 uprising, I was suspected of anarchism because of my family's history,' he says.
He was offered a job with Saviem, Renault's truck operation, by Louis Le Pensec, a Renault executive who is today minister of agriculture in the French Socialist Government.
'To join Saviem was my life jacket at that time,' he recalled. 'Renault allowed me to make a career.'
Within Saviem, he did everything: purchasing, marketing, product development, strategy and quality control.
Today, he is a Renault fanatic.
'You cannot imagine how ashamed Renault people felt in 1984 and 1985 when the company lost billions of francs,' he says. 'But Georges Besse and Raymond Levy, very cleverly, succeeded in using this shame as a tremendous tool for motivation.'
Pascual established himself as a manager when he left Renault VI headquarters in 1990 for Allentown, Pennsylvania. His mission was to save Renault's Mack Trucks subsidiary from collapse.
'In the US, I had to assert myself as a French manager,' said Pascual. In two years, the famous 'bulldog' truckmaker had lost more than $450 million. Within three years, Pascual and his team of French managers re-engineered the company, cut 2,500 jobs and introduced quality control and lean manufacturing methods. In 1994, Mack returned to the black.
Pascual returned to France just after Renault-Volvo's merger failed. 'After the divorce with Volvo we found ourselves naked, without any product or components strategies,' he said. 'We had to rebuild everything.'
Last May, he became chief executive officer for the newly-formed bus joint venture between Renault VI and Iveco. The new venture's headquarters will be located in Barcelona, capital of Catalonia, Pascual's fatherland. A nice comeback for the son of the Catalonian anarcho-syndicalist.