Spotlight On... Lewis Booth, chief financial officer, Ford

The numbers guy?

He's much more than just a numbers guy. The British-born executive has been pinging back and forth between the finance department and the operations side of the car giant for more than three decades. He ran divisions in Europe, South Africa and Japan before settling in the US in 1992.

Not bad for a boy from Widnes

Absolutely, but then cars are in his blood, you see. His dear old dad had a Ford, Austin and Morris dealership in Liverpool, and the young Lewis Booth used to pump petrol there. His twin brother still owns the family business today.

He didn't fancy the dealership himself?

Originally he wanted to design cars, not sell them. After a mechanical engineering degree at Liverpool University, though, he veered off into product management with his first job at British Leyland. He joined Ford in 1978 as a financial analyst. But he can't help himself. Even today he wanders down to the design floor to make suggestions. "They find my offer quite resistible," he says.

So, what's new with Mr Booth?

After almost four years as finance supremo at Ford, word is that he is preparing to retire by the summer. He is already getting some well-deserved plaudits for a job well done. After all, Mr Booth's focus on cash, cash, cash helped to keep Ford's head above water throughout the recession.

Has he prepared for this life-changing transition?

Oh yes. Mr Booth is edging into the lucrative, late-career role of a non-executive director. He joined the board of Rolls-Royce last year.

His parting advice to accountants with ambition?

"Don't feel bound to your home country."

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