Mark Fields Out As Ford CEO Amid Investor Angst

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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Ford Motor Company announced Jim Hackett as its new president and CEO Monday, bringing an end to Mark Field’s three-year tenure as chief executive.

The change is part of a strategic shift towards self-driving vehicles, electric vehicles and ride-sharing technologies. Hackett, who has been head of the company’s automated vehicle division, is a response to investor angst over the U.S. automaker’s stock performance. Ford’s stock has fallen almost 37 percent over Field’s three years as CEO.

Hackett, who also served as CEO of Steelcase Furniture, acknowledged the disruptive forces sweeping across the auto industry. “I have developed a deep appreciation for Ford’s people, values and heritage during the past four years as part of the company and look forward to working together with everyone tied to Ford during this transformative period,” Hackett said.

A shift towards connected car technology and automation has led to the rise of Silicon Valley firms and emerging car companies. California-based Tesla motors overtook Ford in market value in April, a further sign that the auto industry is undergoing a transformation.

The shake up was decided internally on Friday, just a week after Fields was sharply criticized during the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Investors called the automakers stock performance “pathetic and dismal,” according to the New York Times, adding that the price indicated “a lack of confidence in the company’s direction.”

“We’re moving from a position of strength to transform Ford for the future,” Executive Chairman Bill Ford said. “Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space.”

Hackett is credited with turning around Steelcase, the world’s largest office furniture maker. He was forced to cut half the company’s workforce but was credited with showing class and dignity during the process.

Ford said that Hackett, together with Bill Ford, will focus on three priorities. Identifying and addressing under-performing parts of the business, modernizing it’s business model to reflect emerging technologies and transforming the company to meet future challenges.

The company is expected to introduce Hackett Monday morning.

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