Jim Hackett Out at Ford, Jim Farley Named New CEO
Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Hackett is retiring from the automaker after a little more than three years on the job. His replacement is Jim Farley, who was appointed COO this past February. Both moves take effect Oct. 1, and the two will work together in the meantime to ensure a smooth transition of power.
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No reason was given for Hackett’s sudden retirement, and CNBC notes that he expressed plans to remain in his role as recently as February. His departure mirrors that of his predecessor, Mark Fields, who also abruptly retired in May 2017. Fields is believed to have been forced out of his role due to underwhelming stock prices and lack of investor confidence.
Hackett’s bumpy tenure productive for Ford
Though Jim Hackett’s tenure as CEO of Ford won’t likely be viewed as a success, he helped guide the automaker as it introduced several new key products. Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford expressed gratitude to Hackett for helping modernize the automaker both in terms of its product portfolio and its “operational fitness.”
“Our new product vision — led by the Mustang Mach-E, new F-150, and Bronco family— is taking shape. We now have compelling plans for electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as full vehicle connectivity. And we are becoming much more nimble, which was apparent when we quickly mobilized to make life-saving equipment at the outset of the pandemic,” said Ford.
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But despite the positives, Hackett failed to muster up big numbers on Wall Street, which likely ultimately led to the end of his time as CEO. CNBC points out that Ford’s shares are down 38 percent since he took over in 2017 and down 28 percent in 2020. The last Ford CEO to see upward mobility in the stock market was Alan Mulally, who guided the automaker through the Great Recession and saw a 178 percent leap in stock value over his near-eight-year career.
Hackett himself has admitted to the rockiness of his brief tenure as CEO. He described 2018, his first full year on the job, as “mediocre by any standard.” His compensation for that year was $17.75 million.
The former Steelcase CEO will stay on through October to help guide Farley as he transitions into his new role. Ford says Hackett will remain a special advisor to the company through March of next year.
New CEO Jim Farley takes the lead in latest role
Jim Farley’s transition into the top role at Ford is the final stop on an upward trajectory that began in 2007. Coming on as the global head of Marketing and Sales, Farley quickly rose the ranks to lead Lincoln Motor Company, Ford South America, and Ford of Europe. When Hackett was named CEO in 2017, Farley moved into the role of executive vice president and president of Global Operations. In April 2019, he became president of New Businesses, Technology, and Strategy, putting him in charge of key operations like Ford Smart Mobility and autonomous vehicles.
This past February, the sudden retirement of former COO Joe Hinrichs — also believed to be a covert ouster — paved the way for Farley to be next in line for the CEO position. A March filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission suggested that Farley was indeed being groomed to eventually take over as Hackett’s successor. Had Farley not become CEO, he would have earned a $2.5 million stock grant.
Hackett called his successor “a change agent with a deep understanding of how to lead Ford.”
“I love Ford and I am honored by the opportunity to serve and create value for Ford’s employees, customers, dealers, communities, and all of our stakeholders. Jim Hackett has laid the foundation for a really vibrant future and we have made tremendous progress in the past three years,” said Farley. “I am so excited to work together with the whole Ford team to realize the full potential of this great company in a new era.”
Ford has not named Farley’s successor in the role of COO.