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Ford CFO Booth and global product chief Kuzak to retire

Moving on: Ford global product development chief Derrick Kuzak (left) has retired, alongside chief financial officer Lewis Booth (pictured below).

Top-level changes at Ford as executives retire and presidential hopeful joins board

Ford logo13 Feb 2012

FORD Motor Co has announced the forthcoming retirement of chief financial officer Lewis Booth and global product development chief Derrick Kuzak, effective April 1.

Both long-serving executives have played a key role in shaping the Blue Oval’s operations across the world, including in Australia where the future of its manufacturing operations and rear-wheel-drive large car beyond 2016 remain unclear.

Ford has also announced the appointment of former Republican candidate for president of the US, Jon Huntsman, to the company’s board of directors, effective immediately.

After a 34-year career, Mr Booth will be succeeded as CFO by company controller and group vice-president Bob Shanks, who becomes responsible for Ford’s financial operations, treasury and Ford Credit.

Mr Kuzak, who has racked up 33 years with Ford and is considered the architect of the ‘One Ford’ global product program – which is expected to see the next-generation Falcon based on a front-drive platform shared with the US Taurus – will hand over to vice-president of global product development (engineering) Raj Nair.

 center imageFrom top: Bob Shanks, Raj Nair and Jon Huntsman.

The moves have triggered other management changes at Ford, including the promotion of Ford of Europe CFO – and one-time vice-president of finance for Ford Australia – Stuart Rowley to company controller, succeeding Mr Shanks.

Global product programs executive director Hau Thai-Tang will step into Mr Nair’s role as global product development chief (engineering).

Company executive chairman Bill Ford said Mr Booth and Mr Kuzak both represent “the very best of Ford and our culture and (have) built a legacy of leadership, integrity and commitment to excellence that will benefit us for years to come”.

“Lewis and Derrick were absolutely integral to the comeback of Ford and they are retiring with our deepest respect and gratitude,” said Mr Ford.

Mr Booth worked in a series of financial and operational jobs in Europe and North America early his career, and subsequently headed the company’s operations in South Africa and, later, Europe, including the former Premier Automotive Group (PAG).

He returned to Detroit in late 2008 as CFO, steering the company through the global financial crisis without the need to descend into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as was the case for General Motors and Chrysler.

Mr Shanks has likewise worked in a variety of senior financial positions for the company since joining in 1977, including a stint as controller for The Americas, head of operations support, finance and strategy for Ford of Europe and the PAG, and CFO for both PAG and Mazda Motor Corporation.

He has also led the business development activities for Ford’s Asia Pacific operations, which include Australia.

In addition to leading the One Ford program, Mr Kuzak – a native of Michigan – is credited with defining the company’s “vehicle DNA” for Ford and Lincoln, as well as “transforming Ford’s global product development system, leading platform consolidation across key global vehicle segments, and driving the company’s fuel efficiency, technology and quality leadership to unprecedented heights”.

Mr Nair will now assume direct responsibility for all aspects of Ford Motor Company’s product development system, reporting to Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally as well as to president of The Americas (for North American product) Mark Fields.

Mr Mulally described Mr Nair as “the right leader to build on what has been accomplished to date”.

“He understands the potential of moving to global platforms with our One Ford plan and he is committed to continuing to serve the world’s customers with best-in-class cars and trucks,” he said.

“In addition, Raj understands how to lead skilled and motivated professionals and further encourage working together around the world.” Mr Nair joined Ford as a body and assembly launch engineer in 1987 and has since held a variety of leadership positions in Europe, Asia Pacific Africa and The Americas, including vice-president of operations for Asia Pacific and Africa, executive director of ‘commodity business planning’, executive director of North American product development and director of new model programs for advanced and manufacturing engineering.

New Ford board member Jon Huntsman, 51, whose public service career began as a White House staff assistant to President Ronald Reagan, was Governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009 and served as the US ambassador to China until launching his presidential campaign one year ago.

“Jon brings to Ford’s board of directors extensive global knowledge and experience – particularly in Asia with trade issues – and operational experience gained as governor of Utah, a state that has grown jobs even during the economic crisis,” said Mr Ford.

“Jon understands the importance of strengthening the country’s manufacturing base, which will contribute to our success going forward.”

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