By on September 12, 2012

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.”

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12 Comments on “Mark Fields Becomes Ford’s COO, Setting The Stage For Succession...”

  • avatar

    Does he still have the mullet?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Was fear of the Ford Family Faction facilitating finger pointing furthering feckless failures? Did Mulally modify minions of mediocrity and mentor masters of model success?

  • avatar

    Is that Mark’s mom in the picture with him? She’s an attractive woman, how is she doing? I hope all is going well.

  • avatar

    Why promote Mr Fields? Where is the progress?

    1) Ford’s rank in Consumer Reports and JD Powers reliability reports has fallen sharply and is in the bottom tier.
    2) Once again, Ford is losing market share to the foreign nameplates.
    3) Ford has failed to crack the import heavy markets on the east and west coast.
    4) Ford’s profits are due to the government changing the pricing structure of GM and Chrysler. This pricing power has dothing to do with Ford, and this pricing power is being reduced by foreign nameplates ramping up production.

    Where is the success? On Wall Street, a person with a track record like this would not be given a top slot. Only in Detroit would this be rewarded, and only in Detroit does a corporate executive get celebrity type press. Wall Street sees the problems at Ford, and the stock is massively underperforming the market. When I see this proposed promotion, I wonder if Detroit will ever be able to compete.

  • avatar

    Mulally was brought in as an outsider, a rarity in Detroit, but seemed to do OK according to this site and many others. His compensation seems to support this conclusion. Fields is a career insider who has methodically climbed the corporate ladder.

    The next 10 years for the auto industry will be full of unexpected pressures, regulations, market shifts, union issues, engineering challenges, and unexpected competitive foreign actions. Underscoring all this is that Ford (i) has shared some protections from the GM and Chrysler bailouts and (ii) is still all about trucks.

    So who’s the man for the job?

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Why promote Mr Fields? Where is the progress?

    1. Part of the team that avoided bankruptcy and media stain therein.
    2. Highly competitive recent products. Possibly priced a little too high.
    3. Focus is a hit; Fusion will be. Growth on the coasts.
    4. Own the truck market.
    5. Demerit: My Ford touch.

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