Ford Motor Company has named Jim Hackett as its Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. The announcement comes as Ford emphasized “key global leadership changes in an effort to strengthen core automotive business and capitalize on emerging opportunities.”
Although no management changes materialized, General Motors echoed similar sentiments last week when it announced a shifting in its international markets.
“We’re moving from a position of strength to transform Ford for the future,” said Bill Ford, Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman. “Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space.”
Hackett, 62, is the former CEO of Steelcase and Interim Athletic Director at the University of Michigan. In the latter position, he was instrumental in recruiting current head football coach Jim Harbaugh. Since March of last year, Hackett has overseen Ford Smart Mobility LLC as Executive Chairman. He will now lead Ford’s global operations, encompassing about 202,000 employees.
“I am so excited to work with Bill Ford and the entire team to create an even more dynamic and vibrant Ford that improves people’s lives around the world, and creates value for all of our stakeholders,” Hackett said. “I have developed a deep appreciation for Ford’s people, values and heritage during the past four years as part of the company and look forward to working together with everyone tied to Ford during this transformative period.”
Ford praised Hackett’s leadership and his ability to forge bonds with people.
“He’s a true visionary who brings a unique, human-centered leadership approach to our culture, products, and services that will unlock the potential of our people and our business,” he said.
He succeeds Mark Fields, 56, who retires after a successful 28-year tenure.
“Mark Fields has been an outstanding leader and deserves a lot of credit for all he has accomplished in his many roles around the globe at Ford,” Ford said. “His strong leadership was critical to our North American restructuring, our turnaround at the end of the last decade, and our record profits in the past two years.”
With Hackett now at the helm, Ford outlined three top objectives going forward. The first is to enhance what Ford calls a “go-to-market” strategy that includes addressing poor performing areas of the company. The second deals with modernization, including the incorporation of new tools and processes to increase innovation and efficiency, while leveraging big data. Under this umbrella, expect to see Ford invest in advanced robotics and artificial intelligence.
The last objective is to ensure Ford is ideally suited to respond to the changing needs of consumers and society as a whole. It also deals with fostering a healthy internal culture, recruiting the right talent, and encouraging overall transformation. This third objective is arguably the most important, given Ford’s history. The cutthroat and callous corporate culture of Ford is well documented in the book American Icon by Bryce G. Hoffman – such conditions motivated then CEO Bill Ford to recruit Alan Mulally from Boeing.
One incredible scene in the book recalls the Saturday evening when Ford and his wife Lisa took Mulally to dinner in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They spent much of the afternoon going over the deeply entrenched attitudes and resistance in Ford making it impossible for the automaker to move forward. At one point, when Mulally excused himself from the table, Lisa Ford leaned over to her husband and whispered “he seems to good to be true.”
Ford also announced a new operations structure with three key leaders, each reporting to Hackett. Jim Farley, 54, was appointed Executive Vice President and President, Global Markets. He will oversee Ford’s business units, The Americas; Europe, Middle East & Africa and Asia Pacific. In addition, Farley will oversee Lincoln Motor Company and global Marketing Sales & Service. Farley has served as Executive Vice President and President, Ford of Europe, Middle East, and Africa since January 2015.
He will also oversee the development of electrified and autonomous vehicles.
Joe Hinrichs, 50, was named Executive Vice President and President, Global Operations. He will oversee Ford’s global Product Development; Manufacturing and Labor Affairs; Quality; Purchasing; and sustainability, Environmental and Safety Engineering; Hinrichs has been serving as Executive Vice President and President, The Americas, since December 2012.
And finally, Marcy Klevorn, 57, was appointed Executive Vice President and President, Mobility. Klevorn will oversee Ford Smart Mobility LLC, which was formed last year to design, build, grow, and invest in emerging mobility services. She has served as Group Vice President, Information Technology and Chief Information Officer since January 2017.
“We are fortunate to have three dynamic and talented leaders in Jim Farley, Joe Hinrichs, and Marcy Klevorn taking on greater responsibility,” Ford said. “Each has a track record of driving innovation, cost efficiency, and delivering results around the world.”
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.