Reid Bigland, the hyperintensive, iron-pumping U.S. sales boss at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, can undoubtedly move the metal. After all, FCA's U.S. sales have risen every month for the past six years.
He's a "full-blooded sales carnivore," says one company insider.
Bigland is also Sergio Marchionne's chief fixer, having stabilized Dodge and Ram during stints heading those brands in the U.S.
Now he has another mission. Last month Bigland was handed global responsibility for FCA's struggling Italian luxury brands, Maserati and Alfa Romeo -- on top of all his other duties. But this time the job is not only about bolstering brands and boosting sales.
Insiders say the move is very much an examination to see whether the 49-year-old Canadian has the chops to succeed Marchionne in 2018. That's when the CEO, now 63, says he plans to step down.
Marchionne "trusts Reid to run the business," said an FCA source with direct knowledge. "He treats him like the son who may inherit the company -- but isn't certain he can actually take it over."
And, sure enough, Maserati and Alfa Romeo will be a huge challenge, with nothing short of the fate of FCA riding on the results.
In 2014, Marchionne laid out a strategy for FCA that is dependent on the continued growth of Jeep and the revival of Alfa Romeo. That year, a debt-burdened FCA bet the house -- about $6 billion -- that it could resurrect Alfa and push its profit-rich global sales from an anemic 74,000 in 2013 to 400,000 by 2018.
Now it will be up to Bigland to make that happen.
"I think the luxury brands are a good fit since it gives [Bigland] direct control of manufacturing and product development," the insider said. "It's a great test to fill out the chops."