Ford appoints ex-Steelcase exec as president and CEO

Ford appoints ex-Steelcase exec as president and CEO

Jim Hackett. Courtesy Ford

Ford Motor Company has appointed a former CEO of Steelcase to lead the company.

Dearborn-based Ford said today that Jim Hackett will serve as its president and CEO, effective immediately.

Hackett replaces Mark Fields, who’s retiring after 28 years with Ford.

Hackett will lead Ford’s worldwide operations and 202,000 employees globally.

He will report to Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman.

Ford said Hackett will focus on three priorities:

"Sharpening operational execution across the global business to further enhance quality, go-to-market strategy and product launch, while decisively addressing underperforming parts of the business.

"Modernizing Ford’s business, using new tools and techniques to unleash innovation, speed decision-making and improve efficiency. This includes increasingly leveraging big data, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, 3D printing and more.

"Transforming the company to meet future challenges, ensuring the company has the right culture, talent, strategic processes and nimbleness to succeed, as society’s needs and consumer behavior change over time."

“We’re moving from a position of strength to transform Ford for the future,” Bill Ford said.

He said Hackett is the “right CEO” to lead Ford during this “transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space.”

“He’s a true visionary who brings a unique, human-centered leadership approach to our culture, products and services that will unlock the potential of our people and our business,” he said.

Hackett said he’s excited to work with Ford and the team to “create an even more dynamic and vibrant Ford,” which “improves people’s lives around the world and creates value for all of our stakeholders.”

“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,” he said.

Hackett’s background

Most recently, Hackett served as chairman of Ford Smart Mobility, a subsidiary of Ford formed to accelerate the company’s plans to design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility services.

Before joining Ford Smart Mobility, Hackett was a member of the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors, starting in 2013.

As a member of the Sustainability and Innovation committee, he was actively involved with the Ford senior leadership team in launching the company’s Ford Smart Mobility plan.

He also served on the Audit and the Nominating and Governance committees.

He was interim director of athletics at the University of Michigan from October 2014 to March 2016, where he led the search for a permanent athletic director, who was appointed in January 2016.

Hackett was vice chairman of the Grand Rapids-based office furniture maker Steelcase from 2014 to 2015. He retired as CEO of Steelcase in February 2014, after having spent 20 years leading the company.

Ford said Hackett is credited with “predicting that the office landscape would shift away from cubicles to an open-space environment, giving employees the flexibility to work where they want” and helping to make Steelcase a “global leader” in office furniture. 

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