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FCA Australia sales, marketing chiefs exit

Departed: Mark Palavestra has left FCA Australia after two years in the top sales job.

Palavestra, Williams make unexpected departures from FCA in leadership shake-up

23 Jan 2020

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia sales director Mark Palavestra and marketing director Rebecca Williams made unexpected departures from the company last week.


A spokesperson has confirmed that the two key members of the senior leadership team, which is led by recently appointed managing director and CEO Kevin Flynn, left last Friday, January 17, and that a recruitment process for direct replacements is now underway.


The company declined to comment on the reasons behind the departures.


Mr Palavestra had been in the top sales job at FCA Australia for two years, joining in January 2018 as a replacement for Edward Butler who after a year in the position was headed to Nissan Australia as its sales chief.


Prior to joining FCA, Mr Palavestra had spent six years as sales director of Renault Australia.


He switched to the French brand after spending much of his career at GM Holden, where over some 18 years he moved up through the ranks across a variety of business areas.


These included four-and-a-half years as national government and rental fleet sales manager, five-and-a-half years as business development manager (fleet sales Victoria), about four years as district sales manager of light-commercial vehicles (Victoria) and almost four years as district service manager.


Ms Williams had spent a year leading the marketing function for FCA in Australia, which covers US brands Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge and Euro marques Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Abarth and Fiat Professional.


She similarly brought a wide range of experience to the position across a variety of leading brands.


She had previously served for about two-and-a-half years with Nissan Australia – initially as general manager of marketing before stepping up to general manager of brand and communications – and prior to that spent four-and-a-half years with Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific.


At the market-leading German premium brand, Ms Williams moved through a variety of roles including senior manager of product management and marketing for Mercedes-Benz Vans, digital marketing manager across the entire company (including passenger cars, vans, trucks, buses, financial services, etc), and eMarketing manager.


Earlier in her career, Ms Williams worked for Holden over several years. Roles included national distribution manager, CRM and digital marketing manager, and local production planning manager.


In an interview with GoAuto last month, Mr Flynn, who was appointed to head the FCA Australia operations in August after Steve Zanlunghi left the company, said he had been working on a wide-ranging turnaround plan since taking the reins and had left no stone unturned in terms of the local operations.


This new strategy is expected to be revealed publicly early this year, following consultation with the dealer network.

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