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Getting to Know Ford's New CEO

By Motley Fool Staff – May 31, 2017 at 10:21AM

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Find out who’s going to assume the mantle and why the company is handing him the reins.

Last week, Ford (F 0.15%) announced it had a new CEO.

In this clip from Industry Focus: Industrials, Motley Fool energy and industrial analysts Sean O'Reilly and Taylor Muckerman talk about who Jim Hackett is, what previous experience he's had with Ford, and what Hackett and Bill Ford had to say about the move in their interview with Motley Fool senior auto specialist John Rosevear.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on May 25, 2017.

Sean O'Reilly: Ford got a new CEO.

Taylor Muckerman: They did.

O'Reilly: What did you think about that?

Muckerman: Ex-furniture CEO taking over Ford, an automotive company that's trying to concentrate on automated driving.

O'Reilly: This is the second time this has happened. Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, he's obviously... last name.

Muckerman: Legacy. Great-grandfather or grandfather, I don't know which one it was. [Editor's note: Founder Henry Ford was Bill Ford's great-grandfather.]

O'Reilly: I'm thinking grandfather. He made the bold decision to shake up the company's leadership by hiring a new CEO from outside the auto industry. And you -- of course, the furniture company is Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett.

Muckerman: He didn't come straight from there. He's been at Ford, running their automated driving department, autonomous driving.

O'Reilly: It's interesting because Steelcase is actually known for being a really cool company, given what they do.

Muckerman: And he led the transformation from cubicle offices to open floor plans, basically pioneered that not just for his company but I think for the entire office furniture --

O'Reilly: Right. The Glassdoor ratings of the company are awesome, and he's a very forward-thinking guy. The Fool's senior auto specialist, John Rosevear, had the opportunity to chat with Executive Chairman Bill Ford and the new CEO, Jim Hackett, formerly of Steelcase. You may be wondering why he did this. It's because they wanted a new perspective and the ability to adapt in the 21st century. As you said, he was running the automated driving division. They spoke with Ford's new CEO in a big conference room, and then they actually sat down with John --

Muckerman: This was after the announcement?

O'Reilly: Yeah.

Muckerman: Wow. Look at that, a Motley Fool exclusive.

O'Reilly: I wanted to give everybody a really quick snippet, and I'll give everyone directions on how to get the full article. John starts off and says, "Jim Hackett, the former Steelcase CEO who had been running Ford's future-tech subsidiary, is taking the top job effective immediately, Ford announced on Monday." Reports for the past couple of weeks suggested that the reason for the move was, Ford's board was unhappy with the share price moves. John asked him about this, and Bill Ford said, "The fact is that we are in unprecedented times, both in terms of opportunities and potential landmines. I believe that we need a transformational leader who has done it, and who has reimagined a company into a future and then brought that company along with him." He's, of course, referring to Steelcase here. "We're very fortunate to have that in Jim." 

Rosevear asked Jim what needs to be changed at Ford, and Mr. Hackett went on to describe how he actually still believes in people despite the whole automated thing. "It starts with the people and how they can be empowered to do their jobs. The decision-making improvements we want to make are about reducing the friction that can build up over time." I'm actually very anxious to see what happens here, because given the constant dynamic change that has occurred over the last 10-20 years with the advent of computers and AI and robots and all that, and Ford is a huge company, they have plants all over America.

Sean O'Reilly has no position in any stocks mentioned. Taylor Muckerman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Ford. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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