Much attention is on Ford's new CEO, Jim Hackett, but some industry watchers are also keeping a keen eye on two executives who report to him, with the thought that they may be poised to replace him in a few years.
Joseph Hinrichs and James Farley were both named to top positions on Monday, running Ford's global operations and business units, respectively. They will be key players in whatever strategy Hackett implements over the next several quarters. Being longtime industry veterans, they may likely provide a counterweight to Hackett, who built his career largely outside the auto industry.
Hinrichs has operations experience, having risen through the ranks in various manufacturing, logistics, and material planning functions. Farley, on the other hand, comes from a sales, marketing and customer-care background, with experience in higher-end auto brands.
Both have deep international experience.
And though Hackett has the CEO job now, either Farley or Hinrichs could end up with that post in a few years, said Barclays analyst Brian Johnson, in a note sent Monday.
"First, we'd suspect that new CEO Jim Hackett will likely be a medium-term CEO," wrote Johnson, "with a successor to be groomed over the coming years (perhaps in 3-4 yrs)."
With Farley and Hinrichs "now respectively managing the business units and some of the key business functions, it appears both are vying to take over as CEO after Hackett's work is complete," Johnson said. "Both have big challenges and perhaps the board's thinking is this will motivate them to cut deeper, act faster, etc."
Under Hackett, Johnson expects potentially more cost cutting, possibly even more than was seen under Mark Field's tenure as CEO.