The shock decision to oust former Ford CEO Mark Fields and replace him with Jim Hackett has been lauded by chairman of the company, Bill Ford Jr. Ford Jr., the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford, specifically called Hackett a “cultural change agent,” signaling a new direction for the automaker, reports Fortune.
“We have to modernize the business” and move “decisively to address underperforming areas,” he said regarding the decision to remove Fields from his position.
Fields spent 28 years at Ford, but just three years as the automaker’s chief executive. Poor fiscal earnings, especially during the first quarter of 2017, led the company’s stock price on a downward trend; Ford stock has fallen 37 percent since Fields took the top job. Now, as sales continue to plateau in the U.S., Ford must find other areas to boost its bottom line.
Ford Jr. seems confident Hackett will be able to accomplish similar things as former CEO Alan Mulally did. Ford Jr. replaced himself with Mulally as CEO in 2006, who has been credited with instilling positive change at the company.
Former Ford CEO Alan Mulally “really captured the hearts and minds of our employees … and I think that’s something you will see with Jim,” Ford Jr. stated.
Hackett was the CEO of furniture maker, Steelcase, for 20 years and interim athletic director at the University of Michigan where he also played football. In 2016, he joined Ford to become chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC, a subsidiary with a focus on ridesharing and autonomous vehicle technology.
His outsider status may have already boosted confidence with investors. Following the announcement of Hackett’s new position, Ford shares were up 1.7 percent.
Hackett most recently announced a major shuffle of Ford executives. Notably, Raj Nair, former executive vice president, Product Development, and chief technical officer, will become president of Ford North America.