By on May 22, 2017

[Image: Ford]

Ahead of a news conference at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, the automaker has announced Jim Hackett as its new president and chief executive officer.

The news follows last night’s report of the ouster of former CEO Mark Fields by the company’s board of directors. In an official release, Ford refers to Hackett as a “transformational business leader” who will succeed the “retiring” Fields.

Before being named chairman of the newly created subsidiary Ford Smart Mobility LLC in March of 2016, Hackett, 62, served on the company’s board for three years and was a member of its Sustainability and Innovation committee. Prior to joining Ford, the executive gained accolades for his turnaround of American office furniture company Steelcase, where he spent 30 years. As interim director of athletics at the University of Michigan, Hackett lured Jim Harbaugh away from the San Francisco 49ers to serve as head football coach.

Hackett’s job won’t be an easy one. Besides guiding the company through a disruptive era of new technologies, the new CEO must reverse Ford’s flagging fortunes.

Crediting his “creative management approach to business,” Ford claims Hackett possesses the right qualities to guide the company forward.

“Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space,” said Executive Chairman Bill Ford in a statement. “He’s a true visionary who brings a unique, human-centered leadership approach to our culture, products and services that will unlock the potential of our people and our business.”

Working with Ford, Hackett is tasked with shaping up the automaker’s quality control, market strategies, and underperforming areas of its business. Another key priority includes modernizing the company’s operations through the use of big data, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and 3D printing, the company claims.

“I am so excited to work with Bill Ford and the entire team to create an even more dynamic and vibrant Ford that improves people’s lives around the world, and creates value for all of our stakeholders,” Hackett stated. “I have developed a deep appreciation for Ford’s people, values and heritage during the past four years as part of the company and look forward to working together with everyone tied to Ford during this transformative period.”

During the news conference, Bill Ford claimed he and Hackett “always clicked in terms of thinking about the future.” The chairman referenced former CEO Alan Mulally when speaking of Hackett’s ability to win hearts and minds.

Former CEO Fields, who “elected to retire” from the company, reportedly faced criticism from board members and shareholders at a meeting two weeks ago. Much of the acrimony arose from Ford’s continuously declining stock price.

Despite this, Bill Ford saw fit to give Fields an appropriate sendoff. “Mark Fields has been an outstanding leader and deserves a lot of credit for all he has accomplished in his many roles around the globe at Ford,” he stated. “His strong leadership was critical to our North American restructuring, our turnaround at the end of the last decade, and our record profits in the past two years.”

Below Hackett, other changes are afoot in Ford’s upper ranks. Jim Farley, 54, former president of Ford’s Europe, Middle East and Africa divisions, has been appointed executive vice president and president, Global Markets. He’ll also be in charge of Lincoln Motor Company and global marketing, sales and service.

Joe Hinrichs, former head of Ford, The Americas, will now serve as executive vice president and president, Global Operations. Marcy Klevorn, former information technology and chief information officer, will take over from Hackett as head of Ford Smart Mobility LLC. The appointments come into effect June 1. As of yet, Ford hasn’t announced replacements for the vacated positions.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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45 Comments on “Ford Makes It Official: Jim Hackett is the Company’s New Top Boss...”


  • avatar
    Waterview

    “Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space,” said Executive Chairman Bill Ford in a statement.

    “Broader mobility space . . .”? How ’bout we stop being distracted by the shiny thing called “mobility space” and simply focus on making great cars?

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Based on Hackett’s quotes, he realizes that Ford has to build great cars so it can focus on future mobility solutions.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      a big part of the reason for a stagnant/go-nowhere share price is that it shows how investors are pessimistic about a company’s growth prospects. and they may be right about that part. how much growth is possible in cars and trucks? Practically none. the market is thoroughly saturated; all the automakers can do is trade a few points of marketshare every quarter.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @JimZ – valid points. The global auto industry has struggled with overcapacity for a long time. The only markets with potential for grown are China and India. Chinese markets involve partnering i.e. sell your soul to them and India is the domain of low margin vehicles.

        All Ford can really do is improve margins and move into areas that may see future growth. That falls under Adam Tonge’s comment.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    WTF is “mobility”? Sounds like some BS targeted around the idiotic notion that Millennials will Uber everywhere for the rest of their lives and never move to the suburbs, start a family, and need to buy Explorers and Fusions and the like.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      you act like “move to the suburbs” is a foregone conclusion. The “white flight” generations were my parents and grandparents. that is slowly reversing.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        True, and as housing becomes more and more unaffordable out in the ‘burbs, you’ll see growth in core cities, and particularly in “inner ring suburbs.” It’s already happening here in Denver.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          not even the prices, but the hassle. I live in an “inner ring” suburb of Detroit, and hate how much time I spend commuting. I have co-workers who have moved further out to the ‘burbs on the edge of rural areas, and the amount of time they spend driving and the money they spend on gas is mind boggling.*

          sorry, not for me. I’m not going to sit in a car for 3x longer every day just because I feel the need to be a few miles further away from Detroit.

          (* and of course they complain about it incessantly. Hey, you made your beds.)

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            You’re aware that there are jobs in the suburbs, too, not just downtown, right? I live in Chicagoland and have never lived or worked downtown, always lived and worked in various suburbs, for F100 companies. Also, let me know how it goes if/when you have kids who need to attend school, going to send them to Detroit public schools?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            In lots of cities like Detroit, where the real estate is cheap, folks just spend the money they’d have spent on a suburban house on a big house in the city, and send their kids to private schools instead. It’s not a bad alternative if you think about it.

            Having more folks with money living in a city like Detroit builds their tax base, and that ultimately helps their public schools improve, even if the monied folks don’t send their kids there in the first place.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            You gotta send them to private school.

            I have a few friends that live in Detroit. They often talk about how more people should move into their neighborhood. But they send their kids to private school and one had his employer pay for 25% of his house.

            I’d love to live in the city proper, but there are a few things stopping me:

            1) Schools
            2) Lack of city services
            3) Taxes
            4) Crime

            People with families aren’t moving back into the city. I live just over two miles from 8 Mile. That’s probably as close as I’ll get.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            FreedMike-

            Very few people do that in Detroit. And desirable areas in Detroit are relatively expensive because there are so few desirable areas.

            You don’t want property in the parts of Detroit that are cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @S2k Chris – the odds of subsequent generations having it as good as boomers are slim. Another factor is the changes to culture due to technology. When I was a kid, if I wanted to “connect” with friends I literally had to walk/bike/drive to their place. We now can do all of that from the comfort of our devices. Same can be said for entertainment and education. I don’t need to go to a library or wait a week for my favourite TV show.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    Ford made $11B profit last year and they’re unloading the CEO? I got my personal peeves with Ford, including the low stock price, but this isn’t a move I would have approved. The BOD should be the first to go.

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      It’s likely a “political” firing of sorts.
      The outgoing guy pissed off the board in some way,and the new guy didn’t.

      That’s all. “Political Turnover” isn’t just a problem for the worker bees.

      • 0 avatar
        Maxb49

        No. The shareholders were upset about the lagging stock price.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          That’s it, in a nutshell. And the shareholders include most of the Ford family, whose net worth is almost entirely in Ford’s controlling preferred stock. The family is still very much in control of the company, and $4.6 billion net on $152 billion sales (3%) isn’t enough to provide the dividend levels they want.

          The mention of a “transformational” period, and the fact Hackett was on the board that fired Fields, should tell you Hackett will be CEO for only a short period, just long enough for the “restructuring”, which will include layoffs. That’s what he did at Steelcase, and that’s what he’s charged with doing at Ford.

          So that’s what we’ll see at Ford over the next 3 years or so – restructuring, consolidation, and major layoffs, the last of which really excites investors, and is likely to goose share prices, even as a future dip in sales occurs in the industry.

    • 0 avatar
      zip89123

      I need a correction. Ford made $4B last year, not $11B. Some professional source I used was wrong. Still, did any other CEO’s whose guidance made $4B last year lose their job? Didn’t think so.

  • avatar
    Eyeflyistheeye

    It’s a pity, Fields used to have a reputation for arrogance and a short fuse, but he did good at Mazda and he earned his way to succeed Mulally.

    Too bad he bet on this mobility crap. I live in Los Angeles and I’m part of this ridiculous millennial generation. Watching GM’s half-assed moves with Maven in DTLA is just embarrassing. Sounds more like empty buzzwords than anything else. What would Mulally do?

    As a Ford guy and an owner of a small amount of stock, while Hackett seems like a nice guy, I don’t like that he doesn’t have an engineering background or anything to do with machines. I also am frightened to death of how he seems like a generic Michigan good ol’ boy CEO who might be willing to do the bidding of the BoD and sacrifice all of Ford’s hard-gotten gains in quality and engineering because share price.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Well, Bill Ford sent him to the rat’s nest of arrogance that is Silicon Valley, where people have become billionaires by not making any profits. The smart thing to do with the money spent there was to buy back stock and keep the price high.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    Second verse, same as the first.
    Looks like the new CEO’s first four years at Ford have all been circling around the same future/mobility/sustainability/enviro-weenie stuff that just got Mark Fields fired.

    Bill Ford: “Hey, FNG, we want you to do the exact same thing Fields was doing, but even more. Except also convince the investors and the board that it’s a good idea now so the stock price will magically fix itself”.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      This change is a break from the past. The car market is headed for lower sales, and Hackett is the second coming of Minimum Bob Nardelli. He’s going to take an axe (or chainsaw) to Ford’s operations and workforce so Ford makes a profit in lean times, and then leave after a couple years with a sack of money and the blame for all those layoffs.

  • avatar

    When I sold the Ford stock, I felt a car & truck company shouldn’t be run by a showboat.

    The thing I admire about this is that when your CEO says it’s necessary to can 10% of your white-collar workforce, a responsible BoD will look long and hard at said CEO’s performance too. I’m sure it was found lacking in spite of some major triumphs.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      The mobility push crowded out investment in the next generation of Ford’s vehicles. Look at how old most of Ford’s lineup is. Seems like everything was delayed an extra year or 2 to fund the mobility program.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    This sets the stage for Jim Farley to eventually step in to become the Chief.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I’m beginning to think Ford has lost track of what their customers really want. They listen to the vocal 10% while ignoring the silent majority.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      how so? if they only listened to the “vocal 10%” the lineup would be Mustang, ST, RS, the 3-door Fiesta, and the Focus and Mondeo Wagons.

      and nothing else.

      all with diesels and manual transmissions, natch.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        No, the vocal minority wants bigger, Bigger, BIGGER!!! As a result, all their cars look like mirror images just ever so slightly smaller than their next-larger sibling while their SUVs, with one exception, all look alike as well. So you’ve got about 5 identical car models scaled to different size classes, four out of five identical SUV/CUV models (plus the Flex, which is the only good-looking one of the bunch… and the most expensive for its size) and about 15 pickup truck models whose only differences between classes is whether the grill is chromed, black or painted with only one model having a distinctively different grill–also the most expensive.

        It used to be that different models offered distinctive looks so that you could tell a Ford Fiesta from a Ford Falcon from a Ford Galaxy from a Ford Thunderbird from a Ford Mustang. Now even the Mustang looks like a Fusion, with a slightly different headlight package and only 2 doors instead of four.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          Aerodynamics, platform sharing, and crash/pedestrian safety standards all homogenize the lineup, not to mention a corporate identity.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            But when you can’t tell one model from another? The Fiesta looks like the Focus looks like the Fusion looks like the Taurus… They’re such close siblings that any two sequential models are impossible to tell apart unless they’re sitting next to each other. The only time you can visibly tell the difference, other than reading the badges, is when you’re looking at least two sizes apart.

            And this may be one reason why Ford’s sales are dropping. By minimizing actual engineering design to make them so much alike, a customer doesn’t develop an emotional attachment to any one model or to the lineup in general.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Lol. Everyone’s compact and midsized sedans look relatively the same.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Which is why I’m driving an old Ford Ranger and a new Jeep Renegade and not “everyone’s compact/midsized sedan.” I want personality in my cars and 90% of today’s cars are simply too generic.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “No, the vocal minority wants bigger, Bigger, BIGGER!!!”

          Minority?

          What constitutes minority ?

          33% of Ford’s total 2016 sales were F series.

          The F150 sells close to 3 times more than the Escape which is Ford’s second best selling vehicle.

          If Ford listened to the vocal minority aka Vulpine and a few others, they’d have a financial picture much worse than it currently is.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            You said it yourself, Lou, “Ford said that they will focus on the 20%.” https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/quote-day-sports-car-dead/
            What you left out was the rest of that statement, “Let the rest take what they will.”

            So essentially Ford ignores 80% of their potential customers to cater to the vocal few that, granted, garner big profits. Now, what if they actually tried to address those others’ needs?

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Vulpine – wow. At least use the whole quote.

            Time to elaborate:

            “The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. … Pareto developed both concepts in the context of the distribution of income and wealth among the population.”

            Ford is NOT neglecting 80% of its customers. Part of Ford’s One Ford Global was to focus upon the 20% of their product mix that makes 80% of their money.

            Better luck next time.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    They need to buy a controlling share of Mazda…again.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    Problem I have with American corporations, is how they feel they can hire someone with virtually no background in their business/automobile industry and expect that person to make it all come together. It is as though years of learning the business, dealer model, engineering, finance, market, manufacturing, customers, competitors, is worthless. Yes Allen Mulally made it work, but how much was pure luck, when he leveraged the company for loans, sold everything, and rode the depression wave and the natural up side.

    Then again we just elected someone with no experience in politics. So I shouldn’t be surprised. But I wonder if we are willing to hire generals for army and navy and air force who were plumbers and actors or businessmen in their prior lives.

    The reason Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, original Ford founder or Steve Jobs make things happen, is because they bring know how, they know their business and how to improve it by creativity and hard work. We seem to think outsiders can do things that people that have learned the business the hard way never can. It is as though we forget the little story with John Scully and Steve Jobs, and just throw darts at the board, hoping it works.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I agree with that sentiment whole-heartedly.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Henry Ford brought know how to an industry which didn’t exist when he started?

    • 0 avatar
      Eyeflyistheeye

      Mulally wasn’t exactly a stranger to the transportation industry. He designed and sold airplanes.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        Selling multimillion dollar airplanes to governments and billionaire airline corporations is a very different thing from selling a consumer product.

        • 0 avatar
          Eyeflyistheeye

          If selling consumer products was all it took, Jacques Nasser should have been the best CEO ever. Ford needed (needs?) a CEO who actually gave a damn about product and had a background in engineering and manufacturing. While Fields didn’t have that, at least the man knew the difference between a good and bad car and caught religion at Mazda where he saved them through designing better cars.

          Hackett is definitely no Mulally. On the other hand, upon watching interviews with the man, the refreshing thing is that he’s no Minimum Bob Nardelli either, who managed to perfectly emulate everything bad about Jack Welch and nothing good about him. My guess is he’s basically going to be Dan Akerson with a better grasp on the vision thing.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “the refreshing thing is that he’s no Minimum Bob Nardelli either,”

            no, doesn’t sound like he is. Nardelli was the ultimate suit stuffed with buzzwords. His communications were endless streams of “leveraging synergies to maximize value on a going-forward basis.” Then he’d sign off “Best, Bob” as though he’s just folks. It’s like all of these Jack Welch acolytes just followed some “What Would Jack Do” script without really understanding why things worked.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    Maybe the hatchet job will arrange for Ford’s to get better seats.

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