Ford Makes It Official: Jim Hackett is the Company’s New Top Boss

ford-hackett_1197

Ahead of a news conference at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, the automaker has announced Jim Hackett as its new president and chief executive officer.

The news follows last night’s report of the ouster of former CEO Mark Fields by the company’s board of directors. In an official release, Ford refers to Hackett as a “transformational business leader” who will succeed the “retiring” Fields.

Before being named chairman of the newly created subsidiary Ford Smart Mobility LLC in March of 2016, Hackett, 62, served on the company’s board for three years and was a member of its Sustainability and Innovation committee. Prior to joining Ford, the executive gained accolades for his turnaround of American office furniture company Steelcase, where he spent 30 years. As interim director of athletics at the University of Michigan, Hackett lured Jim Harbaugh away from the San Francisco 49ers to serve as head football coach.

Hackett’s job won’t be an easy one. Besides guiding the company through a disruptive era of new technologies, the new CEO must reverse Ford’s flagging fortunes.

Crediting his “creative management approach to business,” Ford claims Hackett possesses the right qualities to guide the company forward.

“Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space,” said Executive Chairman Bill Ford in a statement. “He’s a true visionary who brings a unique, human-centered leadership approach to our culture, products and services that will unlock the potential of our people and our business.”

Working with Ford, Hackett is tasked with shaping up the automaker’s quality control, market strategies, and underperforming areas of its business. Another key priority includes modernizing the company’s operations through the use of big data, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and 3D printing, the company claims.

“I am so excited to work with Bill Ford and the entire team to create an even more dynamic and vibrant Ford that improves people’s lives around the world, and creates value for all of our stakeholders,” Hackett stated. “I have developed a deep appreciation for Ford’s people, values and heritage during the past four years as part of the company and look forward to working together with everyone tied to Ford during this transformative period.”

During the news conference, Bill Ford claimed he and Hackett “always clicked in terms of thinking about the future.” The chairman referenced former CEO Alan Mulally when speaking of Hackett’s ability to win hearts and minds.

Former CEO Fields, who “elected to retire” from the company, reportedly faced criticism from board members and shareholders at a meeting two weeks ago. Much of the acrimony arose from Ford’s continuously declining stock price.

Despite this, Bill Ford saw fit to give Fields an appropriate sendoff. “Mark Fields has been an outstanding leader and deserves a lot of credit for all he has accomplished in his many roles around the globe at Ford,” he stated. “His strong leadership was critical to our North American restructuring, our turnaround at the end of the last decade, and our record profits in the past two years.”

Below Hackett, other changes are afoot in Ford’s upper ranks. Jim Farley, 54, former president of Ford’s Europe, Middle East and Africa divisions, has been appointed executive vice president and president, Global Markets. He’ll also be in charge of Lincoln Motor Company and global marketing, sales and service.

Joe Hinrichs, former head of Ford, The Americas, will now serve as executive vice president and president, Global Operations. Marcy Klevorn, former information technology and chief information officer, will take over from Hackett as head of Ford Smart Mobility LLC. The appointments come into effect June 1. As of yet, Ford hasn’t announced replacements for the vacated positions.