Bill Ford says new CEO Hackett will 'transform Ford for the future'

Key Points
  • The retirement of Mark Fields as CEO and the appointment of Jim Hackett to this position was decided upon so that Ford is able to "accelerate a strategic shift to capitalize on emerging opportunities," the company explained on Monday.
  • During Fields' three-year tenure, Ford's stock has dropped a whopping 40 percent.
  • "Mark Fields has been an outstanding leader," Bill Ford said.
Bill Ford: I didn't fire Mark Fields, he chose to resign after a discussion we had Friday

Ford needs innovation, Executive Chairman Bill Ford told CNBC during an interview Monday.

"We need to be quicker in our decision making ... have clarity in our messaging and communication, and also need a leader who's transformed a company before," the chairman said, discussing the automaker's decision to tap Jim Hackett as its next CEO.

"We are taking a very hard look at our business, and those parts that create value and those that don't create value. And those that don't create value — we can't continue to invest in," Ford added.

The management shake up at Ford — which resulted in the retirement of Mark Fields and the appointment of Hackett — was decided upon Friday and announced Monday so that the automaker will be able to "accelerate a strategic shift to capitalize on emerging opportunities," the company explained.

Hackett comes to the CEO post as the auto industry is being shaped by emerging technologies. Despite having spent heavily on self-driving research, Ford doesn't expect to have a fully autonomous vehicle on the road until 2021.

Less than two weeks ago, Fields was criticized during the company's annual shareholders meeting for Ford's overall sluggish financial results. During his three-year tenure, Ford's stock has dropped a whopping 40 percent.

In fact, upstart electric vehicle maker Tesla recently surpassed both Ford and General Motors in market capitalization, despite selling far fewer cars.

Hackett, 62, joined Ford last year to head up its "smart mobility" operations.

Regarding the company's progress with autonomous driving technology, Ford told CNBC, "I am actually pleased with the progress we are making but there is always more to do and speed is important."

He added that the company has not been talking publicly about its progress as much as some other companies. "Partly, because we want to make sure when we do our messaging is crisp," Ford said.

But as Ford moves forward in this area, Hackett will bring his prior experience reinvigorating companies. While at the helm of office furniture maker Steelcase, he was forced to layoff thousands of workers and revive the company's business. He did so by building a more collaborative culture and emphasizing product innovation.

Hackett also helped turn around the University of Michigan's troubled college football program during a brief stint as interim athletic director. The Ohio native once played on the team under legendary coach Bo Schembechler.

"He's a true visionary who brings a unique, human-centered leadership approach to our culture, products and services that will unlock the potential of our people and our business," Executive Chairman Ford said Monday.

Hackett, along with Bill Ford, plans to focus on three things, which include: sharpening operational execution, modernizing Ford's business and transforming the company to meet future challenges, according to the company's press release on this change.

Ford has also named three of its leaders to new roles under Hackett. Jim Farley has been appointed executive vice president and president, Ford Global Markets; Joe Hinrichs is now executive vice president and president, Ford Global Operations; and Marcy Klevorn has been appointed executive vice president and president, Ford Mobility.

These three appointments will be effective June 1.

"I am so excited to work with Bill Ford and the entire team to create an even more dynamic and vibrant Ford that improves people's lives around the world, and creates value for all of our stakeholders," Hackett said Monday.

"The future is not a fantasy," he added in a news conference, shortly after Ford made the CEO announcement official. "In a rising-tide environment, I want to see us differentiate ourselves."

Hackett said he spoke with Fields last Friday, and the two have plans to go to a football game in the future. "[Fields] has agreed to help me."

Ford's stock was trading up a slight 1.4 percent Monday

Shares might have traded up more on the CEO news "if they hired someone like Elon Musk," Efraim Levy, a senior auto analyst for S&P Global Market Intelligence, told CNBC during an interview Monday, jokingly.

"I think now [Ford has] to get shareholders to come behind the new CEO," Levy went on. He anticipates the company to "double down" its bets on mobility, creating a greater focus on this division, and also to be more aggressive with buybacks.