Ford Motor Company has promoted rising star Barb Samardzich, product development vice president for Ford of Europe, to the position of chief operating officer. With the new job, which previously was unoccupied, Samardzich will oversee five teams instead of one, a spokeman says. Her replacement as European product chief is Joe Bakaj, promoted from the position of vice president of powertrain engineering.
Samardzich is one of the three high-ranking female engineers in the business, along with General Motors’ Mary T. Barra and Alicia Boler-Davis. Samardzich has been on the fast track especially since CEO Alan Mulally launched the One Ford global program. She is the second-ranking Ford of Europe executive after Stephen Odell, president for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Earlier this week, Odell said he expects Ford of Europe to be profitable, again, by the end of 2015.
In his new position, Bakaj reports to Samardzich and to Raj Nair, group vice president for Global Product Development. Bob Fascetti replaces Bakaj as powertrain engineering veep.
Ford also announced Friday the promotion of John Felice to the position of vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. He succeeds Ken Czubay, who has announced his retirement at age 64. Czubay, known for his car salesman-like demeanor in Ford’s monthly U.S. sales report conference calls, joined Ford Motor Company in 1970, but also served stints at Nissan North America and Southeast Toyota Distributors.