The Business On... Alan Mulally, chief executive, Ford
Stephen Foley is a former Associate Business Editor of The Independent, based in New York. He left in August 2012. In a decade at the paper, he covered personal finance, the UK stock market and the pharmaceuticals industry, and had also been the Business section's share tipster. Between arriving with three suitcases in Manhattan in January 2006 and his departure, he witnessed and reported on a great economic boom turning spectacularly to bust. In March 2009, he was named Business and Finance Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards.
Wednesday 07 December 2011
Chief executive? You mean 'Saviour'
The plaudits for his five-year reign at the historic carmaker have begun to roll in, amid reports Ford has started quietly looking for a successor. Mr Mulally, now 66, is expected to retire in the next couple of years. And yes, saviour might not be overstating it.
Not bad for a guy with no car experience
Indeed. Mr Mulally is an aeronautical engineer, who spent his career at Boeing. So loyal and entrenched was he at Boeing, he used to sign letters by drawing a cartoon jumbo with a smiley face.
Plaudits, too, then, for Bill Ford
Founder Henry Ford's great-grandson fired himself as chief executive in 2006, saying the carmaker needed fresh blood, and hit upon the idea of bringing in someone from outside the industry, the better to shake up a company on the ropes.
What can Mr Mulally be most proud of?
Keeping the company out of bankruptcy, even as Detroit rivals Chrysler and General Motors collapsed and needed government bailouts. Without the complacency borne of a long career in Detroit, and with a dollop or two of his famous charm, he persuaded bankers to refinance Ford a good year before recession came.
Mr Nice Guy, too, eh?
Yes, but that doesn't mean he avoids blunt speaking. He repeatedly told Ford employees the firm "had been dying for 40 years" before he arrived.
So farewell, then
Not so fast. Ford says there is still no formal succession plan. Nonetheless, he kept his permanent home in Seattle, near Boeing. When he finally does go back west, Ford will miss him.
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