By on May 31, 2017

Mark Fields, Image: Ford Motor Company

There’s been no shortage of hot takes on former Ford CEO Mark Fields’ sudden departure from the big office in Dearborn, but a new report sheds light on the drama occurring at the Blue Oval shortly before Fields “elected to retire.”

Before his replacement by Jim Hackett, Fields reportedly attempted to fire Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, as a way of relieving growing scrutiny on his own performance. It didn’t go they way he had planned.

According to sources who spoke with Automotive News, Fields sought permission from the company’s board of directors to fire Hinrichs during the week of May 14th. Just days earlier, the CEO was grilled by investors angry over the company’s 40-percent slide in stock value since Fields took the helm. Board members were also very curious as to his plans for the company’s future, as well his strategy to turn around Ford’s flagging financial fortunes.

Hinrichs was the executive in charge of Ford’s extensive, aluminum-heavy revamp of the best-selling F-150. Still, sources claim that Fields felt he could take the heat off himself by giving Hinrichs the boot.

When the board met with Fields on May 19th, the exact opposite of what the CEO had hoped to achieve occurred. Sources claim the board made a decision to move on from Fields and his communications adviser Ray Day. Fields’ “resignation” was announced the following Monday.

Hindrichs, on the other hand, walked away with a big promotion. Instead of being shown the door, he was granted a new title: head of global operations, and a much larger presence within the company’s upper echelon. Neither Ford nor Fields has confirmed this is indeed what happened.

In introducing the new CEO on May 22nd, chairman Bill Ford described Fields’ successor in glowing terms, describing how Hackett and himself “always clicked in terms of thinking about the future.”

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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15 Comments on “Ex-Ford CEO Fields Tried to Oust Top Executive Before Being Fired, Report Claims...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Hinrichs was the executive in charge of Ford’s extensive, aluminum-heavy revamp of the best-selling F-150.”

    Hmm. I thought that high-stakes, high-risk project turned out pretty well.

    Seems like Hinrichs was the wrong guy to pick on.

  • avatar

    Word was that Mullaly had eliminated most of the office politics that had plagued Ford in the past. I guess not.

  • avatar

    Rewarding Fields incompetence with a 51 million give away demonstrates how sick and corrupt corporate America is.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Guy

      “incompetence”? Ford has made a tremendous amount of profit the under Fields. Criticize him for not be forward thinking but calling him incompetent shows your lack of understanding.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Whatever his parachute, it’s pre-determined by contract. You don’t change that later unless the guy is guilty of some grievous crime.

  • avatar

    As a Ford owner, I can’t say anything positive from ‘the president of the America’s – Hinrich’. Ford hasn’t reached out to me since their vehicle left the dealers lot. The problem was the board, aka BOD, not Fields who was used as a scapegoat. BTW, how are those Focus & Fiesta transmissions these days? Has Ford figured out where the 1.6 egoboast coolant is disappearing to? Do the F150’s have decent air conditioning yet?

  • avatar

    When you play the Game of Thrones, either you win or….you get a golden parachute?

    • 0 avatar

      Game of Thrones? It’s not like getting fired in Detroit is a life or death matter. It’s just corporate politics. The “golden parachute” is ordinary “go away and keep quiet for a decent interval” money. Fields is still a member of an exclusive club whose members move around, and will resurface with another automaker at a later date.

  • avatar

    This puts my finger on why I found him sleazy. It wasn’t the mullet. It was that he reminded me of the smart guy/teacher’s pet who spilled something on the floor and blamed you.

    When you get down to it, Fields got to where he was as a corporate suck-up and behind-the-scenes backstabber. The fact that the silos went back up shows it.

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