Confirming weekend rumors of a dramatic management shakeup at Ford, late on Sunday Forbes reported that Ford would replace CEO Mark Fields with Jim Hackett, the former head of office-furniture maker Steelcase who joined the auto maker in 2016. Fields leaves after a 28-year career at Ford, including a prominent tenure as the head of the company’s North American operation. He restructured the company’s core unit while working under Chief Executive Bill Ford in the middle of last decade and then continued the revamp when Alan Mulally took the helm in 2006. Fields was also prominent in restructuring Ford of Europe and Mazda Motor Corp. , in which Ford long held a significant stake.
Jim Hackett is set to take on the CEO post at the auto maker
The move comes amid an ongoing decline in Ford’s share-price during Fields ’ three-year tenure, and recent pressure on profits and market share. The executive shake up, confirmed by the WSJ, has yet to be confirmed by the company. The move comes amid substantial turmoil in the auto industry, where used car prices and tumbling and new car sales have suffered a recent air pocket. The company’s “unusual choice” has taken pundits by surprise, as Ford appears to be turning to Hackett, an industry outsider, who will be leading a company full of senior executives widely seen as capable of succeeding Mr. Fields.
According to the WSJ, Jim Farley, recruited by Ford from Toyota last decade, “will also be given a new prominent role and work directly under Mr. Hackett. A group of other executives will be reassigned.”
Ford’s board began discussing changes to the leadership team recently as the share price hovered around $11 a share, or nearly 40% lower than the summer of 2014 when Mr. Fields took over. Ford’s market cap was surpassed by automotive upstart Tesla Inc.’s in April, a development that underscored how far behind Ford is perceived to be in the race to develop new technology.