Ford is set to promote Mark Fields, head of Ford’s operations in the Americas, to the newly created post of COO, paving the way for him to succeed Alan Mulally as CEO.
The Bloomberg report cites an unnamed source, who claims that the transition may come at Ford’s board meeting, which begins on Thursday. Fields will give up his current role, where he has overseen a turnaround from record losses to record profits. Possible replacements for Fields at the Americas post include Joe Hinrichs, head of Ford’s Asian operations, and marketing chief Jim Farley.
Hinrichs is apparently held in high regard by Mulally, but at age 45 (six years younger than Fields), he is thought to have time to become CEO in the future.
The Bloomberg piece details how Fields won points from Mulally by doing the unthinkable; reporting a defect.
Shortly after arriving from Boeing in September 2006, Mulally instituted a Thursday morning meeting where his top executives are required to report on their initiatives using a green, yellow and red color code to indicate progress, caution and a problem.
Fields was the first to put up a red light because a balky tailgate latch had halted production of the Edge sport-utility vehicle. Mulally, frustrated no one was reporting problems even though Ford was losing $17 billion in its automotive operations that year, began applauding when Fields revealed his red light. “Great visibility, Mark,” Mulally recalled saying in a 2010 interview. “Is there anything we can do to help you?”
Fields later said he had trepidations about revealing the problem because in Ford’s previous culture “finger pointing would have ruled the day.”
“When I showed that first red, there was a lot of tension in the room,” Fields said in a 2010 interview. “Then Alan clapped.”