Joe Laymon isn't on the short list of successors for Ford CEO Alan Mulally, and it's unlikely you've ever heard of him, but if you want to get to the top at the Blue Oval, this is the guy you stop by Starbucks for on the way to work. Laymon is in charge of keeping a list of internal candidates ready in the event Mulally retires (or quits, is fired or for some other reason exits his position), which could come as soon as 2011 when he turns 65.

Both President of the the Americas Mark Fields and new marketing chief Jim Farley are on the short list of six execs on which the company is keeping tabs, but some less familiar names are considered, as well. Europe boss Lewis Booth, CFO Don LeClair, Europe COO Stephen Odell, and manufacturing chief Joe Heinrich round out the list of internal CEO candidates that will be given to the Ford board in the event of a Mulally exit. The list isn't static, either, as names are reviewed and added or dropped each year. If the board doesn't like its choices, though, the list is completely worthless and the company will again look outside its hallowed halls for help, just like it did in Mulally's case.

[Source: Automotive News, subs. req'd]