Today, Jim Farley took the reigns of Ford Motor Company as CEO. He’s the third CEO in six years, and comes at during a transformative time for the 117 year old auto giant. Ford has exciting products like the Bronco, new 2021 F-150 and Mustang Mach-E on the horizon, but profits have declined over the past 10 years. Mainly due to the COVID-19 crisis, Ford expects to post its first ever loss in 10 years. This leaves Farley with a tough job, but a Bloomberg story sets out the steps he’s already taking, and how he’s the right fit for the job.
At a recent meeting with a Dearborn, MI, Ford dealership, Farley asked two salesmen, “What’s the one thing at Ford Motor Co. you’d like to change?” Bloomberg says the salesmen presented a need for more models on dealer lots, and more money to market those models.
This isn’t the only way Farley is asking employees organizationally beneath him for advice. He has a reverse mentor, a customer experiences employee six levels beneath him. Farley said at the dealer event that Ford needs to be successful by valuing opinions and autonomy from everyone, not just the top of the company.
On top of his fresh leadership style, Farley is a car enthusiast’s champion. He races highly valuable vintage cars on the weekends, and has otherwise loved cars his entire life. Cars, and Ford Motor Company, are also very personal to him. For instance, Farley’s grandfather worked in a Ford factory to build the Model T. His years of experience at Toyota, and more recently, running Ford Europe give him an edge over his predecessor, Jim Hackett, who ran office furniture giant Steelcase prior to his Ford position.
Farley said the company is targeting consistent operating performance that includes adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of 8% of revenue with strong automotive adjusted free cash flow, so the company can fully invest in customers and growth.
As these goals were outlined, Ford also announced key leadership changes.
John Lawler, 54, will become CFO today, overseeing the Finance and Ford Motor Credit organizations. Lawler will succeed Tim Stone, who has accepted a position as chief operating officer and chief financial officer at ASAPP Inc., an artificial-intelligence software company. Stone will remain with Ford through October 15.
Bloomberg also says those surrounding Farley at Ford have a high degree of confidence. They admire his love of cars, ability to make tough decisions, but also show emotion in his work.
Now that Farley is CEO, we look forward to seeing how Ford will change to adapt to a dramatically changing car industry. Just having the best selling vehicle for the past 43 years, the F-150, won’t cut it anymore.