The somewhat controversial CEO of Ford, Mark Fields, has retired, effective immediately, according to a new press release from Ford. He has been replaced by Jim Hackett, who is now functioning as President and CEO of the company.
So, it looks like those who have been calling for Fields to be axed have gotten their way.
Hackett, as some may be aware, has been heading Ford Smart Mobility since March 2016 and has been on Ford’s board of directors since 2013.
While it wasn’t noted in the press release on the matter, it should probably be stated here that Ford’s US sales are down 5.1% so far in 2017 (as a year-on-year comparison), and the company’s stock price has fallen 39% during Field’s 3 years as CEO — as noted by Green Car Congress.
Fields has faced fierce pressure to take electric vehicles more seriously, but it’s not clear at this point if this was part of the move to remove Fields. He was also under intense scrutiny for his lobbying and misleading statements in connection with President Trump and US fuel economy standards.
The Ford press release provides further background on Hackett:
- Hackett led Steelcase Inc.’s turnaround to become the world’s No. 1 office furniture maker, served as interim Athletic Director at University of Michigan and has led Ford Smart Mobility LLC since March 2016. He served on Ford’s board from 2013 to 2016
- Hackett, together with Bill Ford, will focus on three priorities: Sharpening operational execution, modernizing Ford’s present business and transforming the company to meet tomorrow’s challenges
- Ford also named leaders to three new roles under Hackett. Jim Farley is appointed executive vice president and president, Global Markets, Joe Hinrichs is appointed executive vice president and president, Global Operations, and Marcy Klevorn is appointed executive vice president and president, Mobility
- Mark Truby is appointed vice president, Communications, and elected a company officer. He succeeds Ray Day, who plans to retire from the company next year and will provide consulting services until then
- Paul Ballew is appointed vice president and Chief Data and Analytics Officer
With regards to the road ahead, Ford added:
Hackett, together with Bill Ford, will focus on three priorities:
- Sharpening operational execution across the global business to further enhance quality, go-to-market strategy; product launch, while decisively addressing underperforming parts of the business
- Modernizing Ford’s business, using new tools and techniques to unleash innovation, speed decision making and improve efficiency. This includes increasingly leveraging big data, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, 3D printing and more
- Transforming the company to meet future challenges, ensuring the company has the right culture, talent, strategic processes and nimbleness to succeed as society’s needs and consumer behavior change over time
Regardless of a change of CEO, though, Ford’s potential problems riding the changes that will be occurring over the coming decades remain in place. That said, considering the resources at the company’s disposal, and its place at the top of the highly profitable US pickup truck market, it doesn’t seem too likely that Ford will be feeling the heat as much as some of its competitors in the coming years. Who knows, though — it’s not an easy thing to predict, at this point, which auto manufacturers will still be around 1–2 decades from now.