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Vijay Sankaran Opting Not to Rejoin Ford

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Welcome Back to Ford Vijay
Despite the cheery message above, Vijay Sankaran will not return to Ford
Photo: Ford

Update (11/20): On Friday, Ford announced that Vijay Sankaran has opted not to return to Ford. Per Ford President and CEO Jim Farley:

Vijay informed us that while he was excited by the opportunity to rejoin Ford during this transformative period for the company, he decided he wanted to take some time off to spend with his family before entering the next phase of his career. We respect his decision and wish him the best in the future.”

In a statement, Sankaran did not rule out eventually returning to Ford in a leadership role. He calls the decision a difficult one, but says that time to recharge and focus on family is ultimately his current priority.

In light of this news, Ford says that Jeff Lemmer will remain on as CIO for the rest of 2020 and that a full-time replacement will be named soon.

Below is the original story on Sankaran’s hiring as published on Nov. 6.

Former chief technology officer for Information Technology at Ford Vijay Sankaran is returning to the company after seven years away. Sankaran, who left Ford Motor Company in 2013 to join TD Ameritrade, becomes the automaker’s new chief software and information officer effective Nov. 16.

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Since leaving Ford, Sankaran climbed the ladder at TD Ameritrade, ultimately spending four years as the company’s chief information officer. In his time there, Sankaran was key in launching a more flexible approach to software engineering, which has allowed the financial trading company to weather the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sankaran left TD Ameritrade in October after its merger with Charles Schwab.  

Sankaran’s homecoming key in Ford’s tech development

New Ford President and CEO Jim Farley said Sankaran’s return to the company is part of its push to leverage technology to build customer relationships and increase revenue.

“We’re investing in our plan to modernize Ford and aren’t going to cede leadership to anyone,” Farley said. “Technology, software and industrial excellence are as critical to our long-term success as the advanced vehicles that those competencies will help us develop.”

In a letter published on @Ford, Farley called the hiring of Sankaran an important moment in The Plan — the new approach being taken under his leadership since officially replacing Jim Hackett earlier this year.

Sankaran will head up Ford’s Technology and Software Platform group. Ford says that his role includes improving operations and developing approaches to building customer loyalty.

“Inventive companies use software, data, and AI to reimagine and deliver highly differentiated product quality, operating efficiency, and customer services,” Sankaran said. “Brand loyalty and growth are turbocharged in organizations that are rich with and driven by data.”

Sankaran spent over 12 years with Ford, including his four-month stint as CTO of IT. Over the course of his tenure, he filled a variety of key roles including four years as the director of Application Development and three years as the director of Infrastructure Operations. He began his time with the company in 2001, joining Ford as an IT strategy analyst.

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