Ford Leadership Shuffle Could Predict Future

Detroit Free Press

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.

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