Ford Motor Co. finally made the announcement everyone has been waiting for. On May 1st, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker confirmed that Alan Mulally will be retiring as Chief Executive Officer on July 1 and named Mark Fields as his successor.
“From the first day we discussed Ford’s transformation eight years ago, Alan and I agreed that developing the next generation of leaders and ensuring an orderly CEO succession were among our highest priorities,” Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in a statement. “Mark has transformed several of our operations around the world into much stronger businesses during his 25 years at Ford. Now, Mark is ready to lead our company into the future as CEO.”
Mulally, 68, joined the company in 2006 from The Boeing Company. Though an auto industry outsider, he did an excellent job with Ford: he is lauded for saving the carmaker from potential bankruptcy, ensuring that the number 2 automaker in the United States avoided the fate of General Motors Co. and Chrysler. Under Mulally’s leadership, Ford paid off its loans early and became profitable once again.
“Alan deservedly will be long remembered for engineering one of the most successful business turnarounds in history,” Ford said. “Under Alan’s leadership, Ford not only survived the global economic crisis, it emerged as one of the world’s strongest auto companies.”
However, Mulally did more than just turn around the Blue Oval’s financial situation. He changed its culture for the better too—a divisive corporate culture gave way to a more collaborative one, which helped the automaker immensely in the last couple of years.
Mulally’s successor, who is a 25-year Ford veteran, is also credited for affecting a positive change in the Blue Oval. Fields was promoted to Chief Operating Officer, a position he has held since November 2012, after he brought back North American operations, among others, in the black.
Mulally is leaving the company earlier than expected—six months earlier, to be exact. Ford said in a statement that the reason behind the early departure was “the readiness of Ford’s leadership team.” Though the outgoing CEO will remain as a Ford shareholder, he will no longer be part of the company’s board.
Some sources say that Mulally has been preparing for another corporate job, but he has yet to make an announcement regarding his retirement plans. He suggested that his priority at the moment was the transition.
As for the COO post Fields will be vacating in a few months, it will stay vacant after he assumes the highest post in the Blue Oval. The post was unfilled for six years before Fields was promoted in 2012.
Fields said that he will continue what his predecessor has done.
“Under Alan’s leadership, we have seen the power of One Ford and what a culture of positive leadership and working together can accomplish. My commitment is to build on that success by accelerating our pace of progress,” he said in a statement.
This marks what is probably the smoothest leadership transition Ford has ever had in its 111-year history. Ford Jr. even acknowledged that the company may not have had “a planned and smooth” transition since the time of his great-grandfather. The automaker called the latest transition as ‘seamless.’
Photo credit: media.ford.com