Prior to an official announcement, it was revealed that Ford Motor Co. will name Mark Fields its next Chief Executive Officer. Bloomberg reported that Fields will be succeeding current CEO Alan Mulally, who will soon retire.
Company insiders said that Mulally, 68, will retire before the end of the year as planned. Fields, 53, who is currently Chief Operating Officer, will be his successor. Fields was deemed as the most likely candidate for Ford’s top post since December 2012, when he was promoted to COO.
According to Bloomberg’s sources, the announcement may be made as soon as May 1st. Ford reportedly intends to make the announcement soon in order to “provide clarity on its leadership and an orderly transition of power.”
Mulally’s retirement will close what is considered a storied chapter in Ford’s history. Ford’s outgoing CEO is credited for saving the company from bankruptcy. After Mulally came to Ford from Boeing Co. in 2006, he signed off on a $23 billion loan. He also helped the struggling automaker by revamping its lineup and reducing costs.
He also boosted investments in China. As a result, Ford sold more units last year in China compared to Toyota Motor Corp.
Moreover, Mulally ushered in an era of collaboration at Ford, whose working environment had previously been marked by backbiting and infighting. Fields was one of the first executives who adopted Mulally’s approach.
Fields also made a notable contribution to the Dearborn, Michigan-based carmaker, resulting in his promotion to the company’s second highest position. The 25-year Ford veteran was credited for turning things around in terms of revenue as the head of North American operations. Fields also helped Mulally in making sure Ford avoided the fate of both General Motors and Chrysler Group, which declared bankruptcy.
Ford thrived under both Mulally and Fields. The automaker may have lost $30.1 billion from 2006 through 2008, but it has earned $42.3 billion in half a decade. In 2013, the company’s pretax earnings in North America was $8.78 billion. F-Series pickups, Escape SUVs and Fusion sedans contributed to the remarkable sales.
While Mulally will be stepping down as CEO, he is not expected to spend his retirement relaxing and playing his favorite sports. The sources said that he is securing a post-Ford position that will keep him active in either corporate governance or business policy. In 2013, he was considered for Microsoft’s top post but Mulally himself declined.
“A lot of great CEOs leave and then there’s chaos behind them,” Executive Chairman Bill Ford said on Bloomberg TV. “Alan and I have talked about that — the importance of the final act of a great CEO is having a great transition.”
This transition is expected to be a smooth one, unlike some of the hand-overs in Ford’s long history.
In 1978, Henry Ford II fired Lee Iacocca as CEO. In 2001, Bill Ford replaced Jacques Nasser.
The company remains mum on the upcoming announcement.
“We take succession planning very seriously and we have succession plans in place for each of our key leadership positions,” Ford spokeswoman Susan Krusel said. “For competitive reasons, we don’t discuss our succession plans externally.”
Photo credit: media.ford.com