Lido (Lee) Iacocca

Lido (Lee) Iacocca was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania to Italian immigrants in 1924. He received a degree in Lehigh University in nearby Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where he received a BA in industrial engineering. Iacocca won the Wallace Memorial Fellowship and attended Princeton University where he studied plastics and politics. He began his professional life in 1946 as an engineer at the Ford Motor Company. Not completely satisfied as an engineer Iacocca changed his career path and entered the sales force of the company. Highly successful in sales, he moved up the ladder until he moved into product development.

In 1960 Iacocca became the vice-president of the car and truck group at Ford, and in 1967 he was named executive vice-president, and in 1970 Iacocca became president of Ford.
On the verge of bankruptcy, the Chrysler Corporation persuaded Iacocca to come on board and turn the company around. He began to restructure the company, firing many employees and selling money-losing divisions such as Chrysler Europe, which was sold to Peugeot. He also brought in colleagues from Ford to help.

In 1979 Iacocca came to the conclusion that without an infusion of government funds Chrysler would be forced out of business. He asked the US Congress for a loan guarantee, and not a loan, to help him get the funding he needed to rebuild Chrysler and save thousands of jobs. One year later Chrysler announced its first profitable year in a long time. While he was bringing Chrysler back to life as a viable company Iacocca introduced the wildly popular mini-van into the marketplace and also brought the convertible back into style.

Related Links:

<– Back to Business Leaders: I