The Good And The Bad Of Mark Fields' Ford Tenure
The unexpected move comes not long after the company’s annual shareholder meeting, held virtually on May 11.
Executive chairman Bill Ford thanked Fields and expressed optimism about Hackett’s leadership at a press conference Monday morning, and shares were trading higher on the news.
Plays At Ford Field(s)
Fields had a long journey through the ranks of Ford, beginning in 1989. He served in executive positions around the world, from Argentina to Japan.
One of his most notable achievements was his development of the One Ford Plan — also known as The Way Forward — a restructuring plan launched in 2006. At the time, Ford market share has fallen 25% since 1990, and the company lost $30.1 billion from 2006 through 2008.
The plan included shutting down seven assemblies and factories, cutting 30,000 factory jobs and thousands of other salaried jobs, and implementing the Global Product Development System to bring down new car development times. Ford earned nearly all of the loss back by 2008 and returned to profitability in 2009, beating projections for a 2010 return.
His rise to the top wasn’t always smooth though. As chief operating officer, Fields once got into an argument with then-CFO Don Leclair, who had demanded Field cut back on marketing spending.
“When you run the [expletive] business, you can do it,” Fields responded, according to “American Icon” author Bryce G. Hoffman. “But you don’t run it. You’re the CFO. So, I’ll take your counsel, but that’s it.”
A shouting match reportedly ensued and then-CEO Bill Ford had to grab Fields, preventing the executives from a physical confrontation.
Fields has recently planned to build a $1.6 billion assembly in Mexico, but the plan was scrapped in early January under stalling sales and pressure from then-president-elect Donald Trump, who reacted to the news warmly.
A Long Road Through Ford
- 1989: Fields begins working at Ford.
- 1998: Fields takes over Ford’s operations in Argentina.
- 2000: Fields is named president and CEO of Mazda Motor Corp, named Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum.
- 2001: Named CNBC Asia Business Leader–Innovator of the Year.
- 2002: Fields becomes chairman of the Premier Automotive Group, Ford’s luxury unit, and soon promoted to executive vice president of Ford of Europe and Premier Automotive Group.
- 2005: Fields serves as president of the Americas.
- 2012: Fields is made chief operating officer.
- 2014: Fields takes over as chief executive officer, succeeding Alan Mulally.
- 2017: Fields steps down as CEO, replaced by Hackett.
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