Ford Motor Co. is turning to a long-time industry-watcher, veteran Wall Street analyst John Casesa, who will become the automaker’s chief global strategist.
The 52-year-old Casesa will oversee corporate and business development efforts and report directly to CEO Mark Fields, the automaker announced this morning. Casesa becomes the second Wall Street insider in recent years to take a senior strategic position at one of the Detroit carmakers.
“John knows business and the auto industry inside and out,” said CEO Fields in a statement announcing Casesa’s appointment. “His deep experience and relationships will help guide and shape our global strategies – particularly as we challenge today’s business model and push to innovate to make us even stronger tomorrow.”
The move comes about a month after Fields outlined what it described as a “smart mobility plant” during a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Ford chief executive emphasized that the automotive world is undergoing massive changes that require rethinking traditional business assumptions.
Manufacturers not only have to cope with traditional competitors but new entrants into the business. And that not only includes automakers like battery-carmaker Tesla Motors, but ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft that provide alternatives for potential buyers that might impact future shopping decisions.
“We are driving innovation in every part of our business to be both a product and mobility company,” Fields said at the time.
Ford is engaged in a series of ongoing “experiments” around the world, including eight in North America, nine in Europe and Africa, seven in Asia and one in South America, each designed to anticipate what customers will want and need in tomorrow’s transportation ecosystem.
Casesa’s new role will put him in a position to oversee and steer such projects, as well as to help determine strategy for Ford’s more traditional business operations. That will include the One Ford plan initially put together under CEO Alan Mulally who retired last summer.
Voted an “All-Star” 11 times by Institutional Investor magazine, Casesa has spent more than two decades in the automotive world. He most recently served with Guggenheim Partners as head of its automotive investment banking practices. He previously worked with both Merrill Lynch and Schroders PLC.
(Ford to build GT supercar in Canada. For more, Click Here.)
Casesa also helped write the qualifying exam for analysts used by the New York Stock Exchange.
(Click Here for details about Ford’s record January sales in China.)
The auto industry’s ties to Wall Street have had their ups-and-downs. Some automotive executives have griped over the years that the need to pump up share prices has often led to short-term thinking too closely linked to quarterly earnings reports. But others have suggested that an eye towards profits would lead to more focused business planning.
(To see more about the $9.6 million in stock GM CEO Mary Barra received, Click Here.)
A current test may come with the recent demand for a General Motors board seat by Harry Wilson, a hedge fund manager and former member of the Obama Administration’s Auto Task Force. Wilson is calling for an $8 billion buyback of GM stock.
After emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, GM brought in another Wall Street veteran, Steve Girsky, to serve as its vice chairman. Girsky took on a variety of assignments, including overseeing efforts to turn around GM’s struggling European operations, before retiring at the end of 2013.