Mark Fields, the company’s COO is short of an official announcement, the known new heir to Alan Mulally’s CEO position. So, let’s get to know him a little.
Fields, although only 53 years old, has been working and growing with Ford for the last 25 years – groomed to lead. The company confined in him at the age of 39, in 2000, when he was put in charge of Mazda as CEO. He led an almost incredible turnaround there and nine years ago he was moved in charge of Ford’s American operations.
Here, after record losses and as the company almost hit bankruptcy just like General Motors or Chrysler did, he embarked on a huge repair job – aided by some of its Mazda executives.
“He’s matured in front of the camera, almost like a child actor,” said Jim Press, a senior Toyota executive when Fields was leading Mazda. “He was very well thought of in Japan, in his 30s, running Mazda.”
“He’s always had a quick wit and charm and a lot of energy, but he’s been so tempered by the ups and downs,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, associate dean of the Yale University, who taught Fields as a graduate student at Harvard Business School. “Going through that period and living with the consequences gave him a certain humility.”
Now, as he’s preparing to gain full control from the top position within the company, Fields will rule an automaker in its prime. The North American operations had in the last years profit margins of 10% and achieved a record $8.78 billion operational profit in 2013.
Also, the European operation is on track to stop losing money by 2015, while China, the world’s largest auto market sees the US carmaker as the highest rising foreign automaker – even surpassing world’s No.1 – Toyota.