Corporate turnarounds are extremely hard to pull off. Just ask Kathryn Marinello who two years ago took over the wheel at Hertz (HTZ). The giant car rental company had been struggling, losing money and market share. Under Marinello’s leadership, there are signs that the 100-year-old Hertz is growing again, but it still has a long way to travel on the road to recovery.
Speaking with Fortune, she ticks off many changes she’s made since 2017 when she became CEO: big investments in new information technology, upgrading Hertz’s fleet of vehicles, finding partners to develop self-driving car fleets, and on and on. But Marinello says the most important change she made was “getting the right leadership team in place.” She was in search of a special breed of leaders and she started from scratch hiring an entirely new batch of senior executives.
“I ask each person in an interview, ‘do you like people?’” she says. “They have to really care about people. The people washing cars right up to their direct reports.” She adds, “just the whole concept of turning around a company into growth and success and the energy that that will create, has to be something that really excites them.”
Marinello’s turnaround strategies have been shaped from years of working at top Fortune 500 companies including General Electric, Chemical Bank (now J.P. Morgan), Citibank and Barclays. Marinello has also put to use the leadership lessons she learned from General Motors CEO Mary Barra during the automaker’s ignition switch crisis and massive recall. As a long-time GM board member, Marinello describes Barra as an “incredibly confident”, “authentic” and “fearless leader”.
“It’s very important for us to always be doing the right thing, so that the company that we’re leading is going to be around for the next 100 years,” Marinello says. “There’s a real responsibility in ownership of iconic companies like a Hertz or a General Motors.”
Watch the video above for more from my interview with Marinello.