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Dany Bahar Gives Hostages to Fortune

In business, to succeed, you have to take risks from time to time.
Generation after generation of top management have had the gut feeling to make decisions which were outside the normal box.
Despite dissuasion from others around them, they have followed a deep-set instinct and gone out on a limb, courting controversy along the way.
Many have tumbled - fallen on their own swords and retreated, tails between their legs, to the lower ranks or out of the door.
Others have risen to greater things because that 'hunch', that enormous risk, has paid off.
But for each one of the latter there are thousands of the former.
The world is full of disillusioned company directors who have died a professional death because a decision they've made has not paid dividends.
But look at business's big success stories and in each case, you'll see that the people at the top are there because they have taken risks.
Take Dany Bahar for example.
He's put his neck on the line in the past and he's doing it again.
The CEO of Group Lotus, recognised as one of the finest marketeers in the business today, has never been afraid of trying something new, nor of trusting his gut feelings.
That's why he's scaled the heights to reach the position he's in today.
As a journalist with a keen interest in watching young blood evolve into captains of industry, I've taken particular notice of Bahar.
He's a man of integrity who won't suffer fools gladly, yet possesses great people skills.
He is also frank.
If he says he'll do something then he will - and that he's already proven in the past.
If he thinks something is wrong then he'll speak out, roll up his sleeves and set about change for the better.
He made his name turning Red Bull and then Ferrari into global marketing giants and his talents at seizing opportunities and injecting his own way of turning things around are legendary.
But before he made his name via Red Bull and Ferrari, he was a successful businessman.
He relishes challenge and, while still a student and living in Switzerland, he literally single-handedly turned the trend for in-line skating into a huge sponsored event.
He approached Benetton, persuaded them to part with cash to sponsor an in-line marathon...
and a star was born.
Both parties came away with something.
For Bahar, it was a sign that his natural business acumen and marketing skills were simmering.
Fast forward now to Group Lotus where he has already shaken up a bit of a storm.
The Bahar gut instinct is showing it is alive and well - and operating at full blast.
He took over an ailing company with the aim of turning it around to its former international glory within a space of five years.
Already 21 months down the line and the hostage to fortune attitude has been aired - and very visibly too.
Armed with a game plan to launch five new cars in less than five years under the banner of Lotus New Era, from the moment he took over at Hethel, he hasn't been afraid to tweak here, change there.
Through listening to what customers have had to say and heeding his instinct he's already gone off that game plan.
As example, feedback regarding the new Elan - one of the five new models in the line-up to be launched - told him that it was too close in style and positioning to the new Esprit.
And so he has restructured the plan, brought the new Evora further up the production line and delayed delivery of the Elan.
'Delayed' he emphasised to me in June, not cancelled as some people in the business would like to make out.
"You have to take risks at times and this was a risk I was prepared to make - that is, changing the timetable around to focus on a different product.
My gut feeling has been telling me that the Evora has fantastic potential," he told me.
"You have to trust your instincts and surround yourself with the best people," he said.
And, he has.
He's already brought some of the finest car people on board and together they're making things happen at Hethel.
The brand genius has also made strong forays into the motorsports market: after all, Lotus has always been an automotive brand associated with racing and from a dip over the past few years it's rising up to the top again.
Bahar hasn't been afraid to build up a Lotus presence on international race tracks, from F1 to IndyCar involvement.
"Look at our involvement within IndyCar," said Bahar.
"We started last year with one car and now we have three, while from next year onwards we'll be offering engines as well.
" And his hostages to fortune attitude has now led to Lotus moving into the merchandising business in a big way.
While at Ferrari, Bahar tripled merchandise sales.
Doubtless that success will be repeated at Group Lotus.
Bahar often refers to the saying 'nothing good ever came easy': he knows it's uphill all the way at Group Lotus but his visionary skills and legendary gut feeling will see him through - and Lotus back at the top again.

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