- Ford put to rest speculation about its leadership succession plan on Thursday with the announcement that Alan Mulally will remain in place as president and CEO "through at least 2014."
- Mulally was praised by Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford for improving the corporate culture.
- "The culture that exists here at Ford today is so different and so much healthier," Bill Ford said in a conference call with reporters. "Nobody wants to go back to the days of empire-building and back-biting."
DEARBORN, Michigan — Ford put to rest speculation about its leadership succession plan on Thursday with the announcement that Alan Mulally will remain in place as president and CEO "through at least 2014."
Ford Motor Co. appointed Mark Fields, president of the Americas unit, as chief operating officer, likely positioning him to succeed Mulally when he retires. Fields was conspicuously absent from today's media conference call. His succession to Ford's CEO post is not cast in stone.
"In terms of an eventual CEO replacement, I've said in the past I prefer it come from inside and I still feel that," said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford in a conference call with reporters. "But as chairman of the board my job is to look at talent internally and externally."
The announcements were part of an overhaul of Ford's top leadership. Among the more noteworthy moves: Jim Farley becomes executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service and senior global leader for Lincoln with the task of launching it as a global brand.
Mulally was praised by Bill Ford for improving the corporate culture.
"The culture that exists here at Ford today is so different and so much healthier," Bill Ford said in a conference call with reporters. "Nobody wants to go back to the days of empire-building and back-biting."
Ford added: "The point on announcing this is to let everyone out there know that whatever happens, Alan's here two more years. We could go longer."
Mulally did not get into specifics about Ford's future product plan, but said "the thing I'm really looking forward to is fundamental product strategy worldwide."
"This product line is complete from Fiesta to F-Series," Mulally said. "We're filling in the spaces in between."
Mulally did not discuss the specifics of his contract with the company, saying only it featured "a very firm handshake with the chairman."
Prior to joining Ford in September 2006, Mulally served as executive vice president of The Boeing Company, and president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
"Many of us were skeptical when Alan Mulally arrived on the Ford scene, with his ‘aw-shucks' style of talking and his lack of automotive experience," said Michelle Krebs, Edmunds.com senior analyst. "But he was just what Ford needed. He immediately saw some obvious problems, like why was the well-known and popular Taurus nameplate dropped? He brought that back as one of his first actions.
"More significantly, however, he noticed the Fords sold in various markets were all different. A European Ford Focus was different from an American Ford Focus. Mulally asked why and set Ford on a course of One Ford around the globe."
Edmunds says: It's a steady hand at the Ford helm — at least for a couple more years.