“The best long-term strategy is day-to-day performance.”
The simplest principles are the ones that work best. Or at least that’s the opinion of José Muñoz, a 1997 graduate of the Executive MBA program and now Chief Performance Offer at Nissan Motor Corporation and Chairman of Nissan North America. Throughout his career he has always applied the same policy: “What’s first is first and what’s second isn’t important.” His discipline and determination have led him to work in three of the most complex industries: nuclear energy, aerospace and automotive. It’s in the latter that he has ascended to his current position.
Muñoz confesses that he hadn’t planned to work in the automobile world until he met his wife, who got him into this field. But after 28 years in the sector, 13 of them with Nissan, it can be said that he’s taken to it like a fish to water. So much so that he didn’t hesitate to move with his family from his native Madrid to Mexico and from there to the United States to rise in the company. Living in different countries, says Muñoz, has helped him to appreciate cultural diversity, gain confidence in new surroundings, and adapt to change. “And if you do it with the family, the links are strengthened,” he adds.
For several years now he has lived in the state of Tennessee, where he says both he and his family feel right at home. “It offers us the perfect mix of southern hospitality –where the tea is always sweet, the steaks are big and shoes are optional– along with a well-developed infrastructure where businesses are welcome,” he explains. He has two jobs: Chief Performance Officer at Nissan Motor Corporation and Chairman of Nissan North America. In the former, he is responsible for the performance of Nissan’s National Management Committees and the Business Units for all the group’s brands; in the latter, he is in charge of operations for Nissan North America in the whole value chain.
With all these responsibilities, “no day is like any other,” especially since during a typical month he spends two weeks in Asia, ten days in North America, and a week travelling to different Nissan regional operations. “The only thing the days have in common is that they begin early and end late,” Muñoz adds.
He says the secret of his success is in applying simple principles and giving his very best every day. “The best long-term strategy is day-to-day performance,” he says. He also thinks that physical well-being has a big effect in the professional arena, which is why he exercises as much as possible. “An executive career is like taking part in an Ironman Triathlon: versatile, demanding and long. Only the best-prepared make it to the finish line. So I swim, run and ride a bike whenever I can.” This not only keeps him in shape but also helps him overcome jet lag after a long trip.
His vision and professional career have made him one of the most important Spanish executives in the United States, and also earned him a nomination for the EPIC Awards, in the Business Impact category. But since he applies his philosophy of living for the day and using simple principles, for the moment he’s only