Department Heads Spin as Ford Swaps Management Roles

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
department heads spin as ford swaps management roles

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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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?

  • Abrar Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?
  • Roger hopkins Why do they all have to be 4 door??? Why not a "cab & a half" and a bit longer box. This is just another station wagon of the 21st century. Maybe they should put fake woodgrain on the side lol...