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New Ford sales manager rises to challenge

New start: Ford Australia’s new general sales manager Neale Hill says he is “excited about what lies ahead” for the company, but admits the decision to end manufacturing presents a big challenge.

Former Ford New Zealand chief focused on ‘sizeable challenge’ in new Aussie role

Ford logo11 Jul 2013

By TERRY MARTIN

FORMER Ford New Zealand managing director Neale Hill has relocated to Australia as general sales manager and will play a key role as the company transforms from a vehicle manufacturer to a full-line importer over the next three years.

Replacing Andrew Birkic, who has moved to Shanghai, China, as director of field operations and dealer development for the Asia-Pacific region, Mr Hill told GoAuto that he was looking forward to the challenge at Ford Australia, which announced in May that it would wind up its manufacturing operations in 2016.

“I knew about the big announcements going in, and went in with full knowledge about it,” he said. “I’m really excited about what lies ahead.

“It’s a sizeable challenge, something the whole company is focused on, and there’s a lot of activity to see we tackle it with a well-thought-out plan.

“We’re looking at adding 30 per cent more vehicles to the portfolio to cover potential gaps and cover other opportunities going forward.”

Mr Hill has overseen Ford’s New Zealand operations for the past two years, having previously served for five years at Ford’s Asia Pacific and Africa (APA) regional office – initially based in Bangkok, Thailand, for two years and then moving with the office when it shifted to Shanghai in 2009.

At the APA, Mr Hill worked as regional launch manager for all passenger cars and, with the relocation to Shanghai, took up the role of ‘cross carline brand manager’.

According to Ford, the cross carline brand chief “acts as a key interface with the global marketing team and the role covers a number of key elements in product marketing including regional product marketing governance and APA cross carline strategies”.

Mr Hill started his career with Ford in South Africa in 1991 as a graduate trainee in the marketing and sales department, and from the early 1990s through to 2006 held positions of advertising manager, regional sales manager and marketing manager.

 center imageFrom top: Managing director of Ford New Zealand Corey Holter and Ford production.

His replacement as managing director of Ford New Zealand is Corey Holter, who was previously Asia-Pacific marketing strategy director, based at the Shanghai office.

Mr Holter joined Ford in the US in 1996 and has held a variety of international strategic marketing roles.

Initially based at its Dearborn headquarters, Mr Holter began a member of the North American fleet, lease and remarketing group, before being transferred to the customer service division in Atlanta, Georgia in 1997.

Following that, he was appointed to the Lincoln Mercury division in Washington in 1999, spending two years there before returning to Dearborn to take up the role of global strategic alliances manager role within Ford’s customer service division.

In 2002, he was appointed marketing manager for the Escape (Kuga) and Escape Hybrid, and two years later joined Ford of Europe as marketing manager for medium cars, based in Cologne, Germany.

In Europe, he was also responsible for a number of programs including the Focus, Focus ST and Kuga, rising to global advanced product marketing manager before being appointed marketing strategy director in 2011, based in Shanghai.

Mr Birkic, meanwhile, is a former Falcon brand marketing manager and served as general sales manager for Ford Australia for two years.

He replaces Kay Hart, who has been promoted to managing director of Ford Philippines, reporting to president of Ford ASEAN Matt Bradley.

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