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Hackett In, Fields Out: Ford Seeks To Change Culture At Car Company

Hackett In, Fields Out: Ford Seeks To Change Culture At Car Company

Jim Hackett, tapped to change the culture at the nation’s No. 2 automaker, brings a background in football and office furniture as the new CEO of Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F).

Hackett, the former CEO of office furniture giant Steelcase Inc. (NYSE: SCS), was picked on Monday to replace Mark Fields, who stepped down after overseeing a 40-percent plunge in the carmaker’s stock price since taking over in mid-2014.

Ford’s shares were at $16.60, up about 0.46 percent in early trading.

"We're moving from a position of strength to transform Ford for the future," Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in a statement.

"Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space. He's a true visionary who brings a unique, human-centered leadership approach to our culture, products and services that will unlock the potential of our people and our business."

Hackett Expected To Focus On Driverless Cars

Hackett, 62, joined Ford last year as head of its Ford Smart Mobility LLC operation, which focuses on driverless vehicle technology. Prior to that, he was on the Ford board of directors.

"I am so excited to work with Bill Ford and the entire team to create an even more dynamic and vibrant Ford that improves people's lives around the world, and creates value for all of our stakeholders," Hackett said Monday.

Hackett rose through the executive ranks at Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Steelcase from 1981–2014, getting named CEO at age 39 in 1994.

He is perhaps best known for being named as the interim athletic director of the University of Michigan in October 2014, after which he hired San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh to coach football at the alma mater of both men.

Hackett, like Harbaugh, played for Michigan under legendary football coach Bo Schembechler. Hackett played center and guard for the Wolverines.

“He would do anything to help the team,” former Michigan assistant coach Jerry Hanlon said. “We played him at guard and at center, and he wasn’t the greatest athlete in the world, but he gave you every bit of himself. I’ll tell you, he was tough. You don’t beat your head against a wall (blocking) every day at practice and in games and not be a tough kid.”

Hackett Seen As Change Agent

Hackett’s ascension was part of a broader shakeup that saw other key executives reassigned. It’s little secret that the board was frustrated by the pace of technological change at Ford, not to mention a stagnant stock price despite profitability.

“Because of the nature of innovation, things are changing so quickly,” Hackett said in an interview with the Detroit News. “I like big problems. This is a big problem to solve in terms of the future of the transportation system — what it’s going to be like.”

Related links:

Ford Lower Despite Q1 Beat

Ford CEO Mark Fields To Be Replaced After 40% Stock Drop

Posted-In: Bill Ford Bo Schembechler Ford Smart Mobility LLC Jerry HanlonNews Travel Management General Best of Benzinga


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