By on October 24, 2017

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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]

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21 Comments on “Department Heads Spin as Ford Swaps Management Roles...”


  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    “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.”

    This is some serious CorpSpeak! How it gets translated into action is a whole different beast!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      ^This!

      I need a degree in bullish— to even begin to make sense of this!

    • 0 avatar
      Da Coyote

      Agree. I’m sick and tired of all the PC mumbo-jumbo.
      Howz about something like, “Our goal is to produce excellent cars which are desired by our customers, and do it a reasonable profit for us and our stockholders.”

      The crp that came from from Hackett sounds more like he is running for political office.

      I have two Ford products, both of which are machines which I’d purchase again. Given Hackett’s verbal diarrhea, I’m worried that future products will perhaps not be worth looking at.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    Per the Oxford Dictionary, the word “obfuscate” is defined as:

    Obfuscation is the obscuring of the intended meaning of communication by making the message difficult to understand, usually with confusing and ambiguous language. The obfuscation might be either unintentional or intentional (although intent usually is connoted), and is accomplished with circumlocution (talking around the subject), the use of jargon (technical language of a profession), and the use of an argot (ingroup language) of limited communicative value to outsiders.[1]

  • avatar
    Fred

    “…more appetizing to investors and potential buyers” So is Ford for sale?

  • avatar
    azmtns

    Q3 earnings are expected to be released on Oct. 26. Could this announcement just be coincidental?

  • avatar

    What was wrong with Fields? He was doing just fine and had international experience running CAR companies. And I would like to see what Hackett would do in 2008, how would he save Ford? By talking BS and moving furniture around?

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Fields was the fall guy for the immense amount of mistakes Mulally made…

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      No, it doesn’t seem like he was doing “just fine.”

      autoweek.com/article/car-news/former-ford-ceo-fields-attempted-fire-hinrichs-days-being-fired-himself

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/brycehoffman/2017/05/22/heres-why-fords-mark-fields-had-to-go/

      ““Mark had to make it his own,” one of those sources told me today. “Unfortunately, his vision and his strategy were not as clear, nor as effective. Mark layered on a lot of things. Our priorities became clouded, and that really slowed decision making.”

      This was precisely the danger I warned about back in 2014. I saw this threat so clearly not because of any special insight or sixth sense, but because the exact same thing had happened when Mulally left Boeing in 2006. When he left Seattle, the 787 program was screaming forward like a rocket aimed squarely at the heart of Europe’s Airbus. But as Mulally’s successor began dismantling his vaunted “Working Together” management system, the aircraft program veered off course.”

      • 0 avatar

        The problem with 787 was that they outsourced too much. Musk is very wise that does not do that. How outsourcing ends up – ask Dell – they created competitors that took market over from them. Regarding Mulally I know that he led development of 777 and then other guy took over and everything was okay, IIRC he was promoted. 777 is large plane, bigger than 787 and it may saved Boeing. Fields is certainly not Mulally, nit even close, he is more like kid in comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      Higheriq

      The Ford board kept seeing Tesla’s share price skyrocket based on few vehicles being sold, losses, and a bunch of promises. Then they noticed Ford’s stock price languish in the $11 range and asked Fields: what are you doing for the future? He had few concrete answers.

  • avatar

    On the further consideration I think investors want Ford’s version of Musk, someone from Silicon Valley. And I cannot blame them considering Tesla’s stock price. Seems like making profit is not so important anymore. New era when society makes money not from making stuff but from run away stock prices (someone looses though in the end). That is simple truth Japanese cannot figure out.

  • avatar
    gasser

    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.

  • avatar
    el scotto

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

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