Ford Replaces CEO Mark Fields In Management Shake-Up

Originally published on May 22, 2017 10:28 am

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET

Ford Motor Co. announced Monday that it has replaced President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields, who is retiring after nearly 30 years with the automaker.

According to Ford's website, Fields' successor is Jim Hackett, who has overseen Ford's efforts on autonomous vehicles as chairman of Ford Smart Mobility. Hackett took that position in March 2016, after serving three years on Ford's board of directors. Previously, he was chief executive of Steelcase, an office furniture company.

The management changes became effective Monday.

"This is a time of unprecedented change," Executive Chairman Bill Ford said during a conference call. "And time of great change, in my mind, requires a transformational leader. And thankfully we have that in Jim."

Ford's stock price has fallen nearly 40 percent since Fields took the reins of the company three years ago. Just last week, Ford announced it would cut its white-collar workforce by 10 percent in North America and Asia, as the auto industry in general faces new challenges.

As NPR's Sonari Glinton has reported, "In many ways, the other shoe is dropping all over the automotive world. Toyota says profits will fall two years in a row. That's a first for the 21st century. Volkswagen is likely to have more layoffs. And Ford is slashing jobs despite the fact that it's the leading seller of trucks and SUVs when trucks and SUVs are booming."

Ford said the company will aim to re-energize and modernize its business, including determining what role artificial intelligence, 3-D printing and robotics will play in the company.

Additionally, "we need to speed up our decision making," he said. "We need to invest our capital where we can create value. ... And importantly, also, we have to move decisively to address underperforming areas."

At the same time, Ford said, "I've never felt more confident in our future."

The ouster of Fields is part of a larger management shake-up at Ford, according to Forbes:

"Other executives will assume larger roles, including James Farley, president of Ford's Europe, Middle East and Africa business, and Joseph Hinrichs, head of Ford North America, people familiar with the changes said.

"Also leaving the company is Ford's group vice president of communications, Ray Day, who will be replaced by Mark Truby, vice president of communications for Ford's Asia-Pacific operations."

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