According to Reuters, Alan Mulally may stay on in the capacity of the board of director’s Nonexecutive Chairman after stepping down as Ford Motor Company’s CEO.
During a regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, Ford’s board reportedly laid the groundwork to make its current head of North and South American operations, Mark Fields, the company’s Chief Operating Officer.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the board was considering moving Fields into the position, but following Friday’s meeting, a spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the report. He said it is Ford’s policy not to comment on matters being considered by the board.
The move to COO would make Fields the heir apparent to replace Mulally. Although he has not said when he might retire, both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal have reported that he could step down as soon as the end of next year.
According to Reuters, an unnamed source with knowledge of the matter said Bill Ford will retain the title of Executive Chairman of the Board if Mulally is appointed the Nonexecutive Chairman.
Commenting on the matter, Ford’s Vice President of Communications, Ray Day said, “Ford Motor Company takes succession planning very seriously, and we have succession plans in place for each of our key leadership positions. For obvious competitive reasons, we do not discuss our specific succession plans externally.”
Finding the right person to succeed Mulally is of paramount importance to the company, in large part, because Mulally has become so closely identified with the company’s phenomenal turnaround over the past few years. Mulally, through his “One Ford” strategy, is seen by many as having nearly singlehandedly saved the company from bankruptcy. Ford, under Mulally’s leadership, was the only one of Detroit’s “Big Three Automakers” to survive the economic collapse of 2008-2009 without financial assistance from the federal government.
Many analysts consider Fields, 51, to be the obvious replacement for Mulally. Fields has served in a number of high profile roles over the course his 23 years with the company and has headed up the company’s North American unit since 2005.