The Ford Motor Company announced today that current CEO Alan Mulally, 68, will retire from his position this summer, with Mark Fields, 53, to succeed as the next company president and CEO effective July 1.
Although this transition does not come as too much of a surprise, the switch will happen six months earlier than anticipated. Mulally previously announced he would be staying on as CEO until the end of 2014. In a statement issued by Ford, executive chairman Bill Ford said that Mulally decided to expedite the process. “Alan and I feel strongly that Mark and the entire leadership team are absolutely ready to lead Ford forward, and now is the time to begin the transition,” Ford said.
Mark Fields is currently Ford’s Chief Operating Officer, and has been with Ford since 1989. Previous roles with the company include President and CEO of Mazda from 2000-2002, executive vice president of Ford of Europe and Ford’s former Premium Automotive Group, and, most recently, executive vice president, The Americas since 2005. He has guided many major projects with these various brands, including a product renaissance while at Mazda, a transformation of Ford’s European operations, and the relaunch of Ford in Argentina.
“It is a true honor to lead this great company and this talented team into the future,” Fields said in a company statement. “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. All of us at Ford are committed to delivering even more of the great products and innovations that will deliver growth and define our company going forward.”
Alan Mulally first became CEO of Ford in 2006 after being recruited from Boeing, and was central to the company’s One Ford transformation plan that put a priority on uniting Ford’s global products to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Compared with when he started at Ford, the company is now in much better shape, with the past few years bringing record profits. Unlike competitors General Motors and Chrysler, Ford managed to avoid bankruptcy and a subsequent government bailout when the financial crisis hit in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, we named him Automobile’s Man of the Year.
Ford has not yet announced who will replace Fields as COO, so stay tuned to see how this leadership change might affect other management reshuffling at the company.