With its recent string of successes, it’s getting hard to remember the bad ol’ days of the Ford Motor Company, when financial bloodletting was all in a good day’s work. In 2005, everything changed with Ford’s Way Forward plan, and the hiring of CEO Alan Mulally, a guy best known for his work turning around Boeing.
With billions of dollars draining from the automaker year after year, Mulally mortgaged all of Ford’s assets—including the Blue Oval logo itself—dumped all of its European brands, and hedged all of its remaining assets to keep business and product development afloat. Kids, this wasn’t just a gutsy move; it’s what every business student in America should be studying. Mulally timed it just right, as the financial collapse came soon after, forcing the other two big American automakers to declare bankruptcy and ostensibly work with the government to do what Ford was about to do internally.
But he wasn’t alone. One of the key people who helped select Mulally for his post was Mark Fields, Ford’s CEO of its Americas operations. A 23-year employee, Fields was one of the first people to admit there were problems within Ford, prompting Mulally to like him immediately. With a brash, nonchalant style, Fields led the Americas back to profitability, posting a $4.14 billion profit on this side of the world as Europe flails and Asia remains stagnant.
Word has it that this week, Mulally is going to name Fields the first chief operating officer of all of Ford in his leadership of the automaker. Fields will report directly to Mulally and have a much greater role in the company’s worldwide planning.
It would also set him in-line to succeed the 67-year-old CEO, as it’s rumored Mulally is planning to retire at the end of 2013.
Fields has been through thick and thin with Ford, leading its resurgence with new cars and trucks amid a culture that feared change. Along with the help and guidance he’s received under Mulally’s tenure, he should be able to carry on with making the company that much stronger. We’re looking forward to seeing how it all plays out, as Fields is one of the more dynamic people in the company and has a real chance to keep the automaker moving and growing in the direction he’d had it for the last decade and expand that success on a very difficult worldwide stage.