Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Can Ford Make a Smooth Transition in Management?

Alan Mulally
Stan Honda | AFP | Getty Images

One of the hallmarks of Ford "B.A." (Before Alan, as in CEO Alan Mulally) was the often messy style of management shake-ups.

Sometimes executives would retire or leave and their successor was not always the obvious (or best) choice.

It was a dysfunctional aspect of Ford that often made outsiders scratch their heads.

Compare that with the leadership changesCEO Mulally announced Thursday morning.

CFO Lewis Booth and Product Development Chief Derrick Kuzak are retiring. Their replacements are Ford veterans with strong track records. Controller Bob Shanks (34 years at Ford) moves up to CFO and VP of Engineering Raj Nair (25 years at Ford) is promoted to President of Global Product Development.

In announcing the changes Ford also said former Utah Governor and GOP president hopeful, Jon Huntsman is joining the automaker's board of directors.

Booth and Kuzak were huge players in Ford's turnaround.

Booth was key in spinning off Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin while also steering Ford's balance sheet back to solid footing.

Kuzak gave Ford's line-up a progressive look and continuity in a line-up that used to be weak outside of trucks and SUV's.

Remember when Ford cars were a joke? That's no longer the case.

Can Mulally steer Ford through these changes with any hiccups? There's no reason to think he won't make it a smooth transition. Ever since he took over as CEO, Mulally has made developing a deep management bench at Ford a priority.

Of course, the focus for outsiders is on Mulally and how long he stays at Ford. In announcing the changes he said, "I have no plans to retire."

Welcome words for Ford investors hoping Mulally's success continues for years to come. .


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