By on May 28, 2017


Ford’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, will be able to avoid some of the shareholder wrath his predecessor assumed. With Mark Fields gone, Bill Ford has taken it upon himself to keep the dream alive and promote the company’s vision of the future while its share price continues to dwindle. The executive chairman and great-grandson of the business’ founder has expanded his duties to include managing corporate communications and interacting with the government — two tasks few would envy.

Bill Ford claims that assuming the responsibilities would allow Hackett to focus on the daily operations and better familiarize himself with the automotive world, of which he has little direct experience with. That isn’t to suggest he’s not the man for the job, but Ford sees no reason to burden him with external communication duties — which we know can get ugly — as he’s settling into the new position. 

“I plan to be very active with Jim as a thought-partner,” Ford told Automotive News in an interview. “I certainly am not going to be running the company; Jim will. We are in such interesting times, and there’s so many possibilities ahead of us, that I really want to be Jim’s thought-partner as we go through this.”

Ford previously served as Fields’ backup on mobility matters, environmental awareness, and investment decisions. He also met with Donald Trump during last year’s campaign to deal with criticisms surrounding the brand’s foreign involvement with Mexico and has been fairly outspoken against the presidents’ immigration ban.

“Government relations, so much of that is a long-term kind of thing,” Ford said. “I’ve been around this company a long time, and hopefully will be here a long time. So it made sense to do that as well.”

Having seen ex-CEO Mark Fields struggle with an angry investment community, Hackett seems to have no issue with Ford handling that aspect of the business.

“Bill has a special role in the world,” Hackett said during last week’s press conference at Ford’s headquarters. “He can see heads of state. He can play a key role in policy for the company.”


[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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10 Comments on “Bill Ford to Accept Shareholder Outrage in Place of Ex-CEO Mark Fields...”

  • avatar

    Dealing with the shareholders makes sense – he’s one of them, as are his entire family. It’s hard for an angry shareholder to complain to a guy whose name is on the company that he doesn’t care. Dealing with politicians is also easier: “Mr. Ford of Ford Motor Company on line one”. That’s not to say there won’t be irate shareholders and less-than-cooperative politicians, but he’s not an underling either group would want to abuse.

  • avatar

    It’s a smart move. Bill Ford is one of the best-liked corporate executives in America so having him be the public face of the company makes sense. People like him and respect the fact that he’s devoted his adult life to the company his great-grandfather founded when he could have lived a life a leisure. There have been times when his cousins wanted to get out of the car business and divest their Class B Ford stock and Bill has convinced them otherwise.

    In an odd way, I think the fact that he doesn’t come off as super polished (as Mark Fields is), that he’s a bit dorky, is part of his appeal.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    This is the same Bill Ford that said in 2005 that Ford would be building 250,000 hybrids a year by 2010, then had to backpedal. It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of promises he makes this time around.

    • 0 avatar

      Hi Frank, nice to hear from you. How’s the Lone Star State?

      I think of 2005 as the salad days for hybrids. Bill had, and has, lots of environmentalist friends and he also needed to change the channel from the Excursion being singled out, as I recall.

  • avatar

    One of the few corporate scions that actually pulls his weight. He was smart enough to step aside and Allan Mullaly do his thing. he also recognizes that Trump only respects other people who’ve also inherited enormous wealth. He could be the critical voice in not letting Trump dismantle effective regulation on the U.S. car industry.

  • avatar

    I generally like Bill Ford, but that’s more uses of “thought-partner” in a single interview than a person should have in a lifetime.

  • avatar

    Comments live for over 12 hours and no grammar naz1 has picked on the awkward sentence in paragraph 2. Maybe it’s the holiday weekend slowly winding down, or it’s something with which the readership is getting used to.

  • avatar

    It would be smart if business leaders on both sides of the aisles just kept their politics more private. Bill Ford seems way to outspoken about his, especially on issues that really aren’t directly related to Ford.

    It can really bite you in a bad way if an election doesn’t go your way and shareholders suffer when a crusading wannabe political activist is the face of a company.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know that he’s a “wannabe”.

      If Bill Ford doesn’t have the resources and influence to qualify as a genuine political activist then nobody does.

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