Two of the most senior and respected members of the Ford Motor Co management team have confirmed retirement plans, including the man behind the maker’s shift to a global 'One Ford' product development strategy.
Retiring are British-born Lewis Booth, the Ford chief financial officer who helped the maker steer its way through one of the worst automotive downturns in decades as the only one of Detroit’s Big Three manufacturers to avoid bankruptcy, and Derrick Kuzak, the head of global product development.
The 63-year-old Booth will be replaced by Bob Shanks, 59, currently Ford’s controller. As for 60-year-old Kuzak, he will be succeeded by Raj Nair, now Ford’s top global engineer. While CEO Alan Mulally promises the shake-up will have no impact on Ford’s global strategy, Shanks and Nair will step into some big shoes.
Both Booth and Kuzak played central roles in Ford’s effort to sidestep bankruptcy and to shift to a global rather than regional management and product development system. The latest example of that new strategy, which Mulally dubbed One Ford, made its debut at the Detroit motor show last month, in the form of the Fusion. The saloon will be sold in Europe as the Mondeo.
The management shake-up also sees a new member join the Ford board of directors, Jon Huntsman, who has just ended his unsuccessful bid for the Republican US presidential nomination.
The departure of Booth and Kuzak sets off a cascade of moves. Ford’s performance car chief, Hau Thai-Tang, will become chief engineer. And that, stressed Mulally, underscores the “depths of the [management] bench” Ford has to draw from, which includes possible successors as CEO. But while he turned 65 last year, the former Boeing executive insists he is not planning to give up his title any time soon.
Mulally said he has “no plans to retire,” and the maker has a succession strategy for all top managers including himself.