Earlier this week, the Ford Motor Company officially announced a new CEO in Jim Hackett, the former chief executive of office furniture maker Steelcase. He follows the recent retirement of the previous CEO Mark Fields and has already quickly begun to make his mark on the company. With his quick and recent transition, Hackett is expected to help Ford maintain its traditional business while preparing for the future.
While the news comes as a surprise to some, Hackett brings a unique and knowledgeable expertise to his new position. Before his turn as CEO, Hackett’s previous Ford experience included serving as the head of Ford’s Mobility unit and as a member of Ford’s board from 2013 to 2016. Also, after serving for twenty years as the head of Steelcase, he has developed a clear instinct for developing trends, often credited with predicting the latest open office plans in the modern workplace. Finally, Hackett also worked as the interim athletic director at the University of Michigan, negotiating a $174 million deal with Nike and meeting with coach Jim Harbaugh. With this full range of experience and deals, Hackett is proving to qualify for the job at hand exceptionally.
Plenty of Ford higher-ups also share a similar notion when acknowledging what the industry will face in the coming years. As Ford plans to keep ahead of the self-driving car market, there are multiple markets and fields that the company needs to manage to maintain an edge. While Hackett has less experience as a “car guy,” he brings about the fresh mindset required to think further ahead and make hard decisions. Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford himself remarked on Hackett saying “He’s really a proven transformational thinker. He’s not just a futurist. He’s a very good operational leader.”
Already, Hackett has worked to make some internal changes regarding the Ford Motor structure, planning to introduce new heads of Ford’s global markets, global operations, and mobility divisions. For a business as long-lasting and popular as Ford, these shakeups in power could provide a new set of eyes for what will be a new market for vehicles. As Hackett also said during a recent news conference regarding his position, “I love that challenge because I know how to do that.”