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Ford confirms Mark Fields as new CEO

Passing the baton: Alan Mulally (left) shakes hands with successor Mark Fields, while chairman Bill Ford looks on from centre.

Generational change at Ford as Mark Fields takes reins as president and CEO

Ford logo2 May 2014

FORD Motor Company has confirmed that Mark Fields will take over from the retiring Alan Mulally as president and CEO when he retires in July 1, around six-months earlier than first anticipated.

Mr Fields, 53, has been with Ford for 25 years and served a variety of roles in the US, Asia and Europe. Since December 2012, he has been responsible for the day-to-day management of the company’s global operations in his current role of chief operating officer.

Mr Fields cut his teeth at Mazda, which was then part-owned by Ford, and during a four-year tenure between 1998 and 2002, first as marketing and sales director and then as global president and managing director.

Mr Fields is credited with laying many of the foundations that saw the company’s subsequent restructure, which manifested with the first-generation Mazda3 and Mazda6 in the early 2000s.

Then, between 2002 and 2004, Ford’s new CEO served as the head of Ford’s now-defunct Premier Automotive Group, which included Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin. All of these European brands have since found new ownership.

In 2005, Mr Fields was appointed an executive vice-president of the company and the president of Ford’s Americas region, a post he held until being made COO in 2012.

Ford’s executive chairman Bill Ford, who sits at very top of the company, said both he and Mr Mulally felt strongly that the internal appointment of Mr Field, long groomed for the role, was best executed mid-year.

“Alan and I feel strongly that Mark and the entire leadership team are absolutely ready to lead Ford forward, and now is the time to begin the transition,” said Mr Ford.

“From the first day we discussed Ford’s transformation eight years ago, Alan and I agreed that developing the next generation of leaders and ensuring an orderly CEO succession were among our highest priorities.

“Mark has transformed several of our operations around the world into much stronger businesses during his 25 years at Ford. Now, Mark is ready to lead our company into the future as CEO.”

Mr Mulally, an engineer, is retiring after a 45-year career, including 37 years at US aviation giant Boeing that resulted in his appointment as executive vice president of The Boeing Company and president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Since joining Ford in 2006 after a recruitment drive headed by Mr Ford, Mr Mulally has overseen the rollout for the ‘One Ford’ plan that has seen the company become significantly leaner, partially by making products more homogenous from market-to-market.

In his first few months in charge, Mr Mulally led Ford’s quest to secure loans of $US23 billion to keep it afloat. The timing, just before the 2008 GFC, proved sufficient to help Ford avoid US government bailouts and bankruptcies that befell General Motors and Chrysler.

Ford has since experienced globally 19 consecutive quarters of profitability.

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