Mark Fields Becomes Ford's COO, Setting The Stage For Succession

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
mark fields becomes ford s coo setting the stage for succession

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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  • Musiccitymafia Musiccitymafia on Sep 12, 2012

    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?

  • Dave M. Dave M. on Sep 13, 2012

    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.

  • Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing with leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
  • Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.
  • Inside Looking Out I did not notice, did they mention climate change? How they are going to fight climate change, racism and gender discrimination. I mean collective Big 3.
  • Lou_BC I'm not too picky about gloves. If I'm concerned about heavy oil or grease contamination, I'll donn nitrile gloves. Heavier work and I'll use "old school" leather gloves, fake leather, synthetic or whatever is available.
  • Dusterdude Getting the popcorn ready . May be a good plan for strikers to make sure they own good winter jackets for future pickets .