Department Heads Spin as Ford Swaps Management Roles

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Ford is restructuring its upper management for the second time since former CEO Mark Fields took permanent leave of the company. Now in the top executive slot, Jim Hackett wants to continue tweaking staff in order to “improve efficiencies” and reshape the automaker in an image more appetizing to investors and potential buyers.

Hackett’s initial culling served to streamline the corporate hierarchy into something more manageable. The more recent shakeup, announced Tuesday, appears to be more of the same — leaving some with additional duties as Ford attempts to realign its global strategy.

Stephen Odell, Ford’s executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service, is out — retiring after 37 years with the company.

“Stephen has made significant contributions to Ford, including laying the groundwork for our turnaround in Europe and positioning us for success as we continue to create a world-class global marketing and sales organization,” Hackett said in a statement. “In addition, he has mentored and helped develop many of our next generation of leaders. We appreciate his many years of service and wish him well in the future.”

Taking over in Odell’s absence will be Kumar Galhotra, who was also named group vice president of Lincoln. His new duties won’t begin in earnest until November, however Ford is placing a lot on his shoulders. The manufacturer is keen to see Lincoln hailed as a world-class luxury brand and expects Galhotra to be the man to make it happen. In addition to ensuring Lincoln’s wellbeing, he’s also responsible for “developing digital services, e-mobility, and autonomy” while ensuring the company makes sound investments.

Bennie Fowler is also retiring after 27 years with Ford. Replacing him as vice president responsible for quality and product launches will be Linda Cash, Ford’s current vice president of manufacturing for Ford of Europe.

Felicia Fields, another 31-year Ford veteran, will also be retiring. Kiersten Robinson, executive director of human resources, will serve as interim Human Resources leader until a suitable replacement can be found.

Not everyone is retiring, though. According to the automaker, global strategies vice president John Casesa is electing to leave the company as it takes a long hard look at itself in the mirror.

“As we develop our strategy to become the most trusted mobility company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world, we will continue to reshape the organization to deliver the most value for our customers and all of our stakeholders,” Hackett explained. “The changes we are announcing today will further align resources and improve efficiencies throughout our global markets and operations. At the same time, I want to recognize the truly significant contributions of the senior leaders departing from Ford and thank them for their many years of service.”

Additional staffing changes include global purchasing head Birgit Behrendt assuming a newly created position. As vice president of joint ventures, alliances and commercial affairs for Ford of Europe, her former role will be assumed by Lisa Drake.

Ford also announced that Joy Falotico, chairman and CEO of Ford Credit, will begin reporting directly to Hackett. Falotico previously reported to CFO Bob Shanks, who will now provide oversight to the automaker’s global strategy and business development team. The company believes Ford Credit will play an increasingly significant role in its business strategy by identifying revenue-generating financing opportunities and establishing mobility-based business models.

With the exception of Galhotra, whose duties begin next month, all appointments are effective January 1st, 2018.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 21 comments
  • Gasser Gasser on Oct 24, 2017

    How about concentrating on quality? The recent problems with door locks and exhaust leaking into the cabin or an out rage for modern manufacture to encounter.

  • El scotto El scotto on Oct 25, 2017

    Did Hackett go hat in hand to the Ford family and get their approval for all this?

  • Kat Laneaux I get the point that Musk is making. I wouldn't want everyone to know my secrets. If they did, they could or would shout it out to the world. But then, if Musk certified certain folks and had them sign Confidentiality agreements, which would allow them to work on cars that Musk had made, that could allow others to work on his cars and not confine vehicle owners to be charged an arm and a leg for the service. It's a catch 22. People are greedy little buggers. If they can find a way to make money, they will even if it wrong. People...sad.
  • 285exp I have been assured that EVs don’t require maintenance, so this seems pointless.
  • Slavuta "The fuel-economy numbers are solid, especially the 32 mpg on the highway"My v6 Highlander did 31 over 10 hour highway trip
  • Aja8888 As I type this, my 4 months old Equinox's Onstar module that controls the phone is broken. Yep, 4 months (never worked right from day one). Replacement will be a REFURBISHED unit since no new ones can be obtained (from China?). I really don't miss the phone via Bluetooth. And I have a great Garmin that I have used for years for trips which has free lifetime maps and traffic.
  • Bd2 There's a reason why talented American execs have been leaving Stellantis in droves.Tavares seems intent in following "Le Cost Cutter" Ghosn into driving his company into the dirt, whilst "justifying" his ever expanding compensation.