One of the first actions he undertook was to ensure the safety and well-being of employees. Health and safety protocols were implemented at all company facilities, remote work was promoted, and constant communication with staff was encouraged, providing emotional support and motivation during these difficult times.
Regarding production, Román prioritized the manufacture of more profitable and high-demand vehicles, adjusting production according to the changing needs of consumers. To strengthen Nissan’s competitive position in the Mexican market, emphasis was placed on customer service and providing an exceptional experience from the first contact to after-sales service.
The Mexican subsidiary of Nissan now ensures that it has overcome the chip crisis that in the last three years limited its ability to supply the growing demand for vehicles generated after the pandemic.
Nissan has three vehicle plants in Mexico – two in Aguascalientes and one in Morelos – with a joint capacity to produce up to 800,000 units a year of key models for the brand in the local market. Four of its five best-selling models in the country – the Versa, Sentra, March and NP300 – are produced at these plants.
In 2022, the Japanese manufacturer assembled 391,000 units, according to Inegi data. Román said in an interview that he expects production to reach 600,000 units this year, with plans to export 67% of this volume. “Right now our production is at full throttle,” said the CEO of Nissan Mexicana.
This recovery in production volumes can be seen in the brand’s local sales. Between January and May, Nissan has placed 40,423 units, 53.6% more than in the same period of 2022, when it had sold 26,308, according to Inegi data.
After having achieved the stabilization of the brand’s operations in the local market, as of July 1, 2023, Román will leave his position as president and general director of Nissan Mexicana and NIBU, to establish himself in Japan, from where he will direct the strategies sales worldwide and will be in charge of leading the Infiniti brand.
The lessons of a CEO
Román arrived in Mexico with 10 leadership mantras learned in his more than 30 years of experience in the automotive industry. But the list doubled during his stay in the country. In his last meeting with the media, Román stressed the importance of loving what you do. He himself is an example of his passion for his work, being a civil engineer who found his true vocation in project management. The first piece of advice from him is seek satisfaction in daily work, find that spark that ignites motivation and commitment.
The open minded and flexibility These are fundamental qualities to face the challenges of a globalized environment. Román emphasizes the importance of understanding cultural differences and adapt to diverse audiences in different parts of the world.
“It is happening to us, and especially at the automotive level, that one day you are in China, another day you are in Brazil, another day you are in Japan, another day you are in the United States and you have different audiences, different people,” he says.
It also highlights the need for learn languages -minimum three- and develop intercultural communication skills for success in an increasingly connected world. Román says that you always have to have your passport ready.
The CEO of Nissan Mexicana also highlights the importance of making decisions based on solid information but without waiting for 100% of the data. In an ever-changing business environment, it is crucial to have the ability to make decisions with a reasonable percentage of available information. Román emphasizes the importance of trusting instinct and accumulated knowledge to guide those decisions.
Román recognizes the need to manage time properly. In her day to day, she balances the accounts with Erika, her assistant. Throughout the year, you have more than 3,000 meetings, some of which are highly productive, some of which are important, and some of which are irrelevant.
The role of the mentor is also essential in professional development. Roman advises look for mentors, even those who may be younger or belong to different generations. Feedback and a fresh perspective from a mentor can help broaden your vision and adapt to new ways of thinking and working.
The CEO stresses the importance of surrounding himself with a complementary team. It recognizes that no one can be an expert at everything and that it is essential to have people who can bring complementary skills and knowledge. Working together and valuing individual strengths is essential for business success.
It also highlights that as you advance in your career and level up, work becomes less technical and more coach. “It is no longer necessary to be so much on the field, but to give direction to the team. Show the way to the north, to the south, move fast or slow. That is the value of management.”
Finally, Román shared a lesson from a dealership sales manager of the brand with exceptional performance. “She tells her employees: If you don’t know, I’ll teach you. If you can’t, I’ll help you. But if you don’t want to, we’re going to miss you.” For Román, this message summarizes the importance of passion, commitment and a positive attitude in the work environment.
Román will leave the position in a couple of weeks. He moves to Japan, where he lived before coming to Mexico. So he was the global head of Datsun. He now returns as senior vice president (SVP) of global sales for the corporation and also as global head of Infiniti, Nissan’s premium brand. His position as president and general director of Nissan Mexicana will be occupied by the Mexican Rodrigo Centeno, who was serving as senior sales director.
Román stressed that one of his main objectives upon arriving in Mexico was to ensure that his successor was of Mexican origin. “I think we have to recognize the ability of the locals to lead an operation of the magnitude of Nissan Mexicana. It is the fourth most important globally”, concludes Román.