- — Mark Fields will replace Alan Mulally as Ford Motor Co. CEO and president when Mulally retires July 1.
The company announced the transition Thursday at a news conference at its headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., attended by hundreds of employees along with Mulally, Fields and Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who were all smiles on stage. The board met to finalize the decision on Wednesday, and Mulally joked that he may have made and seconded the motion himself.
Mulally has been Ford’s longest-standing CEO not named Henry Ford. Mulally joined the company in September 2006 from Boeing Co. just as the industry and the American economy were headed for the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
In this carefully orchestrated and unusually smooth transition of power, Bill Ford was effusive in his praise for Mulally.
“We know Alan is a hall of fame CEO … . But most hall of fame CEOs cannot let go. They do a great job and then go kicking and screaming and chaos ensues,” Bill Ford said.
“Alan’s last act is his finest act,” he said of the plans to hand power to Fields.
Mulally, 68, said in addition to retiring as president and CEO, he is also resigning his seat on the board of directors. Fields will assume all three posts.
Bill Ford said the board looked at outside candidates but he was pleased that Fields emerged as the best candidate.
As for Mulally’s next steps, “I haven’t decided,” he said. “Retirement thing sounds good too,” said the man who was in the running last year to run Microsoft Corp. and is expected to pepper his retirement with further board and corporate work for companies eager to tap his management skills.
He will continue to watch Ford’s progress under his successor. “I’ll be their best cheerleader,” Mulally said.