Neal Manowitz has been named president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics Inc. North America, effective April 1. Sony Electronics — with its North American headquarters in Rancho Bernardo — made the announcement Feb. 2.

He will take the place of Mike Fasulo, who is retiring. Fasulo led Sony’s multibillion-dollar electronics operations in North America for the past seven years, and has been with the company for 37 years. Fasulo is credited for turning around the company, boosting sales and changing the company culture.

Manowitz currently serves as deputy president, imaging products and solutions -Americas for Sony Electronics. In that role, he is responsible for Sony’s imaging and professional businesses that serve many markets including broadcast, cinema, education, sports, medical and photojournalism. Under his leadership, Sony’s interchangeable lens camera business is up more than 300%.

‘Remarkable Performance’

“Neal’s 25 years of service to Sony have been defined by his remarkable performance, and I am confident that with his strong background in technology, and expertise in engaging closely with customers, he will further contribute to enhancing Sony’s value in the North American market as a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, chairman, president and CEO of Sony Corp., in a statement distributed by the company.

“I am thrilled to be placed at the helm of Sony Electronics,” Manowitz said. “This month will mark my 25th anniversary with Sony and I am honored and humbled to be asked to step forward and lead the best team in the industry. I am thankful for the leadership and guidance Mike has provided me and to the entire North American team. We will continue to lead innovation for all of Sony, listening to our customers, while striving to maintain Sony as the best place to work.”

The news came as Sony released financial results for the third quarter of fiscal 2020, which ended on Dec. 31. According to Sony, Q3 consolidated sales increased 9% year on year to $25.8 billion (2,696.5 billion yen) and consolidated operating income increased a significant $565.6 million (59.1 billion yen) year on year to $3.437 billion (359.2 billion yen), mainly due to an improvement in valuation gains and losses on investment securities in other income and expense. Income before income taxes increased $1.599 billion (167.1 billion yen) year on year to $4.568 billion (477.4 billion yen).

A Case Study in Turnarounds

Fasulo took the top job in Rancho Bernardo in 2014. In a 2020 interview, he recalled that sales were declining, profits were declining and costs were not declining. He got views from employees about what was going on and interviewed customers. Sony went through a reduction in force, and cut down its product line by almost 50 percent to concentrate on the premium brand. In the years since, Fasulo has ensured an inclusive and energized work environment.

The effort worked. In Fasulo’s words, Sony’s North American business went from being “under fire” to “on fire.”

“Mike navigated Sony Electronics to a turnaround of historical proportions while sticking to Sony’s brand strength,” said Karyn Schoenbart, CEO of market research and consulting firm NPD Group, in an October article about the executive.

“Throughout my 37 years at Sony Electronics, I’ve had the privilege to oversee our multibillion-dollar business across North America, leading a strategic transformation and dramatic cultural change that resulted in a successful turnaround and broad industry acknowledgement,” Fasulo said. “Since 2015, we’ve been recognized as a Best Place to Work more than 49 times in the U.S. and Canada. My proudest legacy is seeing the results of my progressive leadership in our commitment as an organization to diversity, equity and inclusion. Being able to create a real impact has been gratifying. I leave the organization in very capable hands with Neal.”

“Throughout his extensive career at Sony Electronics, Mike has demonstrated outstanding leadership and dedication, culminating in the strategic turnaround of our electronics business in North America, and the achievement of record results. Through his uncompromising focus on creating unique and compelling customer experiences, he has contributed greatly to Sony’s purpose to ‘fill the world with emotion through the power of creativity and technology,’” said Yoshida. “He has also maintained an unwavering commitment to serving the community and society. I want to thank Mike for his strength, passion and exceptional stewardship of Sony Electronics over many years.”

In addition to being president and COO, Fasulo is senior vice president of Sony Corp.

Fasulo received the Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the San Diego Business Journal’s 2020 CEO of the Year Awards in September.

After leaving Sony, Fasulo will continue to serve as a trustee for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and as immediate past chairman of the executive board of the Consumer Technology Association.

Roots in Accounting

Fasulo joined the company in 1984 as a financial analyst and held several leadership positions in the company, including executive vice president sales, U.S. chief marketing officer, president and CEO, E-Solutions LLC (an e-commerce startup with seed funding from Sony Corp.) and president, Media Solutions Company before being named president and COO of Sony Electronics in 2014.

“Neal has a distinguished track record of innovation, people development, and a deep knowledge of Sony,” said Fasulo. “I have had the privilege and honor to work alongside Neal for decades and I can say with complete confidence that he is the right person to lead the Sony Electronics North American operation, our largest market, toward the future. Additionally, his compassion for others and his focus on an inclusive learning environment, diversity and the betterment of society, fits perfectly with Sony’s global purpose and values. His proven track record of leading and posting significant results make him the ideal successor at Sony Electronics.”

Prior to his current role, Manowitz held numerous leadership positions throughout the company, including heading up the Home Audio and Video business group. He holds 35 patents with 40 more in progress.