Mark Fields becomes the new Ford COO and heir-designate to succeed CEO Alan Mulally.
Ford Motor Co. has come a step closer to resolving two of the most frequently heard questions in the automotive industry, but it has not given a complete answer as to when CEO Alan Mulally will step down – and who will succeed him.
But a strong clue emerged Thursday morning with news that Mark Fields, currently Ford’s President of the Americas, will become the maker’s new Chief Operating Officer, a position all but certain to ensure he eventually moves up upon Mulally’s retirement. But the 67-year-old CEO, clearly in no rush to leave, will pare back his day-to-day role but continue as Ford’s chief strategist and internal cheerleader.
“At least thru 2014. Whatever happens, Alan is here two more years. And we could go longer” Ford Chairman Bill Ford clarified when asked how long Mulally would stay. “Obviously, I love Alan. I’ve never enjoyed working with anyone so much (and) I’d like him to stay forever. But part of the manifestation of a great CEO is developing a great team.”
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So, from a day-to-day management perspective, the man in charge will now be 51-year-old Mark Fields, the Jersey Boy who many – including Mulally — credit with creating the “great elements” of a turnaround plan which helped Ford avoid bankruptcy, unlike its cross-town rivals General Motors and Chrysler.