Fortune - John Elkann: Fiat's fresh face < 5min

Being in Turin also meant more opportunities to spend time with his grandfather Gianni. They met often for meals and long conversations about business. Slowly, says Elkann, the outlines of a future somewhere within the family firm began to take shape. Yet he was in no way prepared for the brief conversation that took place at Villa Frescot, the Agnelli family home in the pine-clad hills overlooking Turin, when he was 21. ... An older Agnelli cousin, who was being groomed for the capo position, had died suddenly, leaving a board seat open at Fiat. After lunch that day, Elkann recalls, his grandfather said, " 'I'm thinking about the appointment on the board, and I think it should be you.' I wasn't expecting that. I asked him, 'Do you think it makes sense?' " ... Fearing Morchio might quit if he didn't get what he wanted, Elkann flew to Geneva for a secret meeting with Marchionne. ... He had been appointed to Fiat's board a year and a half earlier, but the fact is, he was running a company that tests toasters and baby toys. "I had never made a car or a tractor," he says now. "I really didn't know s**t."