Ford Motor Company has announced that President and CEO Jim Hackett, 65, will retire. Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley, 58, will take over that role, effective October 1. Hackett will continue to serve as a special advisor to the company through March 2021.
Ford’s Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who is the great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford as well as tire magnate Harvey Firestone, joined Farley and Hackett at a press conference on Tuesday morning to share the news.
Hackett took over the role of CEO on May 22, 2017, succeeding Mark Fields. While Fields concentrated much of his Public energy on visions of the tomorrow of 50 years from now, Hackett marked his tenure with moves designed to help Ford’s bottom line today while planning for the future.
“My goal when I took on the CEO role was to prepare Ford to win in the future,” Hackett said. “The hardest thing for a proud, long-lived company to do is change to meet the challenges of the world it’s entering rather than the world it has known. I’m very proud of how far we have come in creating a modern Ford and I am very optimistic about the future.
“I have worked side-by-side with Jim Farley for the past three years and have the greatest confidence in him as a person and a leader,” Hackett said. “He has been instrumental in crafting our new product portfolio and redesigning our businesses around the world. He is also a change agent with a deep understanding of how to lead Ford in this new era defined by smart vehicles in a smart world.”
During his tenure, Ford has discontinued most of its cars while bringing SUVs and trucks to the forefront. Hackett oversaw the launch of the new Escape and Explorer in the U.S. as well as the debut of the next-generation of Ford F-150, a new-for-the-U.S. Ranger, the company’s best-selling model, and fresh lineup infusions in the form of the Mustang Mach-E all-electric crossover, the Bronco family of products, and a bevy of Mustang variants.
His time at the top will also be remembered for efforts to streamline the business practices of a company that could fairly be described as bloated with bureaucracy. While plants were shuttered to modernize production and jobs were lost as Ford moved to a more direct and modern way of conducting business, Hackett also approved changing Ford’s marketing and advertising to a new agency model, changing out to BBDO as creative lead over W+P, which had served the company for 75 years.
Hackett also formed a partnership with Volkswagen Group to develop and distribute electric vehicle technology – a costly venture for companies to undertake on their own. He is also credited with encouraging the development of smart mobility solutions and sustainability practices.
However, Wall Street investors have not been kind to the company during Hackett’s tenure, even as the company allocated $11 billion toward restructuring in an effort to be better prepared for the future. The company is expected to turn a $4-5 billion profit in the second half of 2020 according to Ford CFO Dhivya Suryadevara. In contrast, Tesla, a company that turned its first annual profit ($104 million) in 2019 and has notable quality control, reliability, and human resources issues, has seen its stock soar in recent years.
Prior to his tenure at Ford, Hackett was vice chairman of Steelcase, the global leader in the office furniture industry.
This story is developing and will be updated as new details are available.