Ford announced CEO Jim Hackett will retire this fall with newly appointed COO Jim Farley taking on the role after the departure.
Hackett, 65, came to the automaker in May 2017 after a lengthy career as the top executive at Steelcase in Grand Rapids succeeding Mark Fields. In fact, he was retired from the office furniture maker. He was the second consecutive CEO the company pulled from outside the auto industry, following Alan Mullaly, who came over from Boeing.
“I am very grateful to Jim Hackett for all he has done to modernize Ford and prepare us to compete and win in the future,” said Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman, in a statement.
“Our new product vision – led by the Mustang Mach-E, new F-150 and Bronco family – is taking shape. We now have compelling plans for electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as full vehicle connectivity. And we are becoming much more nimble, which was apparent when we quickly mobilized to make life-saving equipment at the outset of the pandemic.”
Hackett came on to help the automaker shore up perceived shortcomings in its vehicle line-up as well as its business processes. During his tenure, the company elected to delete slow-selling sedans from its product portfolio, renewed its commitment to electric vehicles – highlighted by the coming Mustang Mach-E, and undertook a series of changes to change the way the company does business.
He’s fallen short in the eyes of many in that area with the company’s financial results underwhelming investors. Hackett’s first round of changes at the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker didn’t take, and he was criticized in some circles as being unable to provide a clear vision to those who worked for him as to what he wanted done.
However, he’s revamped those efforts in recent months, shuffling executives into different jobs and consolidating some areas of responsibility. Those changes included moving Farley, 58, into the role of chief operating officer, in the wake of Joe Hinrichs, former president, Automotive, sudden “retirement” from the company.
“I have worked side-by-side with Jim Farley for the past three years and have the greatest confidence in him as a person and a leader,” Hackett said. “He has been instrumental in crafting our new product portfolio and redesigning our businesses around the world. He is also a change agent with a deep understanding of how to lead Ford in this new era defined by smart vehicles in a smart world.”
Hackett will still be involved with the company in the role of special adviser until March 2021. Farley, in a statement, expressed his excitement about his new challenge and appreciation for Hackett.
“I love Ford and I am honored by the opportunity to serve and create value for Ford’s employees, customers, dealers, communities and all of our stakeholders. Jim Hackett has laid the foundation for a really vibrant future and we have made tremendous progress in the past three years. I am so excited to work together with the whole Ford team to realize the full potential of this great company in a new era.”