As three top, and well-respected, Ford Motor Co. executives announce their retirements, speculation indicates that the promotion of their successors could eventually lead right to the top.
Find out who’s leaving and who’s moving up at Ford and what it means.
The retirement of three top, well-respected Ford executives and the promotion of their successors is viewed as a precursor to the eventual ascension of Mark Fields as CEO.
The Dearborn automaker said Tuesday that top labor negotiator Marty Mulloy, design chief J Mays and North American manufacturing chief Jim Tetreault all will retire Jan. 1, although they all are in their 50s. The reshuffling follows the retirement in September of Ken Czubay, Ford’s marketing and sales vice president.
Moving up are Moray Callum, the new vice president of design; Bruce Hettle as North American manufacturing chief, and Bill Dirksen as vice president of labor affairs.
“I think the main thing behind this is Mark Fields is putting his stamp on the organization,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for Edmunds.com.
“This is a huge change. It covers manufacturing, labor relations and design,” Dave Sullivan, an automotive analyst with Auto Pacific, said of the executive retirements. “All of these are core characteristics of the entire company.”
Mulloy, Tetreault and Mays each worked in the automotive industry for more than 30 years, but they are at least nine years younger than Mulally, who is 68.
Earlier this year Ford’s board of directors promoted Fields from president of the Americas to chief operating officer, a step regarded as a strong signal that he is likely to succeed Mulally, who has said he wants to served through 2014 at least.
Mulally, who still owns a home in the Seattle area, has been mentioned as a possible successor to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, 57, who plans to step down in the next year. Last month, Mulally evaded direct questions about talks with Microsoft and would only say that the succession plans at Ford have not changed.