• Nov 26, 2009
When Alan Mulally arrived at Ford Motor Company three years ago, the Blue Oval was in bad shape. New product wasn't exactly pouring in and the company's cash hoard was steadily shrinking. And word on the street is that the corporate culture at Ford was in as much trouble as the product lineup, making change difficult. Now in 2009, it appears Mulally has done the near impossible, turning around Ford's product lineup while supposedly positively altering FoMoCo's corporate culture.

For all of Mulally's success, there is one problem: he's 64 and can't continue to run the company forever. And although Mulally has given no signals of separating from Ford any time soon, industry insiders are already speculating on who will become his successor. The four names that continue to come up are Ford Americas President Mark Fields, global marketing boss Jim Farley, manufacturing whiz Joe Heinrich and Ford Europe savior Lewis Booth.

The Detroit Free Press feels the early money is on Fields. The Harvard grad has been with Ford for 20 years, and he's lead some high profile success stories. He turned around Mazda and is currently piloting Ford North America in the midst of what appears to be a substantial product renaissance. Farley has an advantage in that he came to Ford from Toyota/Lexus and is seen by many as a real up and comer.

By many accounts, Heinrich is a bit of a manufacturing genius. The Harvard Business grad came from General Motors, where he became the company's youngest ever Plant Manager at age 29. Booth has the longest resume and arguably the most examples of success. He appears to have consistently met and exceeded expectations everywhere he has been, including Mazda, Ford Asia Pacific and Ford South Africa. Booth is different from his fellow executives in that he is the only one who isn't in his 40s.

We have no earthly idea who would become the next head of Ford, and we're guessing that we're at least a couple years away from finding out. We're OK with that, because this Mulally guy appears to know what he's doing.

[Source: Detroit Free Press | Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 29 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      There's no reason why Mullaly should retire. He seems to be in great shape and he is doing a terrific job. You shouldn't retire him for the sake of change.
      gadvrules9000
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe they should get Matt or Brian. They obviously know what Ford needs to improve on...








        • 5 Years Ago
        @gadvrules9000
        I think Matt is a perfect example of someone that loves ford but hates to admit it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @gadvrules9000
        Well...it's not like Saint Al has really done anything great at Ford....he did what people like myself have been saying for years...trim brands, improve quality, cut the workforce.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I think Mullaly should stay a while. Having dealt with Fields whilst at Aston Martin i think he is a shokcing leader with no charisma and is very dull. I cant comment on Farley and would definitely rate Lewis Booth as the next CEO.
      Ford are doing well, selling of the other companies has given them focus. They are the best selling brand over in Blighty and every model here is great, apart from the really crappy Fusion.
      Have fun.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow I had no idea Mulally is 64, he looks younger IMO.
      • 5 Years Ago
      My enthusiasm for Mulaly is tempered by the mess he left behind at Boeing. I'm just not sure how much credit to give him.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Fields I say should get it if anyone. Guy helped turn Mazda into that "other import brand" into its "Zoom-Zoom" you see now. Though I can see Booth being in a tie with Fields because of how Ford is litterally tapping into its Europe's portfolio to help save its American car's. Either of these two would be great at the job in my honest opinion. That and atleast to me they dont seem to subscribe to the old adage of "business as usual" and are looking forward and not at their feet.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Whoever it is I hope they can continue to nurture Ford's rising star. What perfect timing as Toyota falters with their failed quality and battered image. Ford has a bright future.


      (That's a little blind worship tribute to SHANE from down under, LOL!)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Seriously though, he's done the job and it shows. Ford is in as good a shape as can be expected during this downturn. I am sure they're going to weather this storm and come out stronger than ever. I'm keeping up my hopes for Chrysler and General Motors as well, especially Chrysler which is hurting the most.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I hope he Mulally doesn't leave anytime in the next couple years. There's still some unfinished work to be done and good-natured CEO's are hard to come by. We all remember what happened to Chrysler after Iacocca left, don't we?
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Fiesta will flop, and Ford is doomed once they sell Volvo and whatever stake they have left in Mazda. Eating Volvo and Mazda's brains will only go so far, Ford.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Brian, you do realise that the Fiesta has been one of top selling superminis in Europe for more than 30 years with more than 12 million sold and the current sixth generation is considered by most critics to be the top car in it's class. Hardly a flop by any standards regardless of how well the car fares in the US.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And the sub-compact Fit gets 35 PG, WORSE than the compact Civic. Really? Honda (the self proclaimed mileage king) can't figure out how to make a sub-compact more fuel efficent than a compact? Yeah, the Fiesta will flop because of seats.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Linus & Merlot
        Shame on you for feeding the troll.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Brian, what alternate universe do you hide in? The Fit and Yaris aren't even on the radar in Europe where the Fiesta reigns as the most popular (and awarded) sub-compact. You can only ignore the plain facts for so long.

        And my apoligies, John. But even a troll has to wacked with a 2x4 now and again.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmm.

      Mr. Mullaly, Boeing called; they'd like you to come back.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't care who's where, all I know is that I'm still waiting for the Fiesta to buy one!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mulally is still young by today's standards. He seems to have plenty of physical and mental energy and would probably go nuts in retirement if he really enjoys running Ford.

      Mulally has been an excellent CEO which will become even more apparent as Ford brings more new cars to market in the next few years. Watch the upcoming Fiesta break sales records in the U.S.

      I have high regard for Ford these days for managing to survive without a major bailout or bankruptcy. Too bad that one horrible Ford decades ago poisoned me against owning a Ford forever. Yep, that's how bad that awful thing was!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Have you bothered to test drive a recent Ford? Let the 40 year grudge die and you'll be very (pleasantly) surprised.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ford's best bet -- and the choice I can easily foresee them making -- is to let Mulally stay right where he is for as long as he has the desire to do it.

      Fields is OK, but not my first choice of successor. The company has a "deep bench," to use basketball terminology, much deeper than GM or Chrysler at this point.

      You also can't discount the possibility the Ford family might make another move to install a family member at the helm. They hold more power than they deserve, but when your name is on the building, that's pretty much how it works.
    • Load More Comments