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Ford’s New CEO Jim Hackett Has A ‘Superpower,’ Associate Says

Jim Hackett
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Mark Fields‘ successor as CEO of Ford Motor Company, Jim Hackett, has a valuable “superpower” that will serve him well in his new post, according to longtime business associate David Kelley.

“I’m not worried about whether he’ll endear himself to the people in the company,” Kelley says. “That’s his superpower. People will want to work for him, I promise.” It’s a point that he illustrates with a story: attending the Michigan-Ohio State football game at the University of Michigan in 2015, Kelley watched as Hackett (then U-M’s interim athletic director) walked out onto the field to shouts of “Ha-ckett! Ha-ckett! Ha-ckett!”

After just a year on the job, despite being only a temporary athletic director, he had amassed a following.

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David Kelley, who founded the Silicon Valley-based design/consultation firm IDEO, has worked closely with Jim Hackett before; while Hackett was CEO of Steelcase in the 1990s, the company invested in IDEO, and the two executives forged a unique business relationship. The firms even went as far as setting up audio equipment in their respective offices to allow for real-time, around-the-clock collaboration between IDEO in Silicon Valley and Steelcase in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“I’ve met a lot of CEOs. Jim’s a really exceptional person as well as an exceptional CEO,” Kelley says, adding that Hackett has a genuine interest in hearing from those he works over.

It doesn’t hurt that Jim Hackett has also garnered a reputation – both at Steelcase and in his short time with Ford Smart Mobility LLC – as someone who can feel out future trends. The automotive industry, which is changing dramatically as new technologies offer transformative opportunities, can benefit from more leaders with that gift.

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(Source: Detroit Free Press)

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Written by Aaron Brzozowski

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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