Yesterday, Ford announced a pair of senior leadership changes in a small shakeup. One of those involved the top Ford lawyer position of general counsel, as it was announced that associate general counsel John Mellen would be replacing Bradley Gayton, who has accepted the position of senior vice president and general counsel at Coca-Cola Co.
Gayton is staying on with Ford until August 31st to help ensure a smooth transition. The 29 year Blue Oval vet admits that leaving the company will be difficult, but he’s looking forward to starting fresh with a new organization in a different industry.
“Ford is deeply part of me, and it’s been an honor to make a difference at such an iconic and important global company,” he said. “There’s a lot to be proud of, particularly the programs we’ve established that could enhance diversity for generations to come. I’m always looking for fresh ways to think, learn, and innovate and this move will provide me and my family the opportunity for new challenges and growth on behalf of another storied brand.”
Beyond his work at Ford, Gayton and his team bolstered the automaker’s longstanding tradition for providing pro bono legal services to underserved neighbors in Southeast Michigan and around the globe and established a program to introduce minority high school students to careers in law.
“Bradley is an exceptional strategic business leader and advisor, and we’re grateful for everything he’s done,” said Ford CEO Jim Hackett. “His legal and administrative functions are world-class, partly because of how Bradley uses agile teams to operate most efficiently and create a rich environment for development.”
Luckily, the automaker has an experienced replacement ready in fellow Ford lawyer Mellen, a 39 year company employee himself. In his most recent role, Mellen managed Ford’s global litigation practice and provided counsel in areas including safety and environmental regulatory compliance, labor and employment, occupational health and safety, and insurance.
“John Mellen has been invaluable in advancing and protecting Ford as associate general counsel,” Hackett said. “His wisdom and relationships will help sustain our ambition to build trust and generate superior value for customers and other stakeholders.”