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FCA executive John Kett departs company
Expat Australian Kett leaves top job at FCA Asia-Pacific ‘to pursue other interests’
23 Jul 2015
By TERRY MARTIN
FIAT Chrysler Automobile’s Australian-born vice-president and Asia-Pacific general manager John Kett unexpectedly left the company this week after more than seven years as a key figure behind the automotive giant’s operations in the region.
His immediate departure “to pursue other interests” was announced in a statement from the company’s global headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, overnight.
The statement said APAC region chief operating officer (and president and CEO of the Jeep brand worldwide) Mike Manley would, on an interim basis, “assume Kett’s responsibilities with the assistance of his other executives in the region, to support the China growth strategy”.
“China is an important area of growth for our brand and our business and has grown into the number-one Jeep market outside of the United States,” Mr Manley said.
“We appreciate the contributions made by John in that regard and we will continue to deepen our relationship with our joint-venture partner, GAC, to support that strategy.”
As well as being responsible for China, Mr Kett – who began his automotive career with Holden in 1989 – had overseen the broader Asia-Pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand, since January 2009, having joined the company a year earlier as director of finance and controlling for the Shanghai-based division.
Left: Jeep president Mike Manley.
It is not known whether Mr Kett’s departure is related to the scandal involving former FCA Australia chief Clyde Campbell, who is facing a legal action brought against him by his former employer over the alleged misuse of more than $30 million of company funds.
Mr Campbell, who is due to submit his defence to the lawsuit tomorrow (July 24), reported directly to Mr Kett during his tenure as head of FCA Australia from October 2010 to May 2013.
Before joining Chrysler in 2008, Mr Kett had built up extensive automotive experience and a strong knowledge of Asian markets in roles such as vice-president and chief financial officer of SsangYong Motors in South Korea and, prior to that, CFO for General Motors China Group from 2001 to 2004.
Earlier in his career, Mr Kett was on a fast track through the ranks at GM, working in a variety of positions in Asia and the Antipodes.
After seven years with Holden, from 1989 to 1996, he spent a year with GM China before relocating to GM New Zealand as CFO. In 2000, he was appointed CFO and chief informational officer of GM Indonesia, but moved back to Beijing the following year to take on CFO role for GM China.
Born in Melbourne, Mr Kett was made a life member of the Richmond Football Club – recipient of a major Jeep sponsorship deal from FCA Australia.
In announcing Mr Campbell’s appointment to FCA Australia in 2010, Mr Kett said the company was pleased to have Mr Campbell lead the Australian team “given his wealth of knowledge and decade of experience in the automotive industry”.
In 2013, Mr Campbell left to go into partnership with vehicle importer Neville Crichton to distribute FCA vehicles in New Zealand. However, this was terminated in May this year when the allegations against Mr Campbell surfaced.
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