So where might Mulally wind up?
My opinion, based on speaking with those close to Mulally, is that his options fall into three areas:
1. Become CEO of another company
Mulally still has the desire to run a company.
He's leaving Ford largely because he's climbed the mountain, and he realizes that the mark of a successful CEO is finishing the job and handling a smooth transition.
Bottom line: He's up for running—even turning around—another company.
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That said, Mulally's not going to move over to a small mom-and-pop operation.
If he takes another CEO job, it will be for a big company.
2. Join the board of a major company
This may not seem like a move with a lot of action, but Mulally would see it differently.
He views himself as the ultimate team player who can also lead a large organization.
If he were asked to become executive chairman of a major company, where he could help shape how the management team moves the firm forward, he'd take the offer.
3. Do public service
Mulally has a desire for public service, and if the right opportunity came along, he'd take it.
The key here is making sure it's the right opportunity.
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Commerce secretary? Probably not.
A different, more high-profile presidential appointment? Maybe.