There’s been no shortage of hot takes on former Ford CEO Mark Fields’ sudden departure from the big office in Dearborn, but a new report sheds light on the drama occurring at the Blue Oval shortly before Fields “elected to retire.”
Before his replacement by Jim Hackett, Fields reportedly attempted to fire Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, as a way of relieving growing scrutiny on his own performance. It didn’t go they way he had planned.
According to sources who spoke with Automotive News, Fields sought permission from the company’s board of directors to fire Hinrichs during the week of May 14th. Just days earlier, the CEO was grilled by investors angry over the company’s 40-percent slide in stock value since Fields took the helm. Board members were also very curious as to his plans for the company’s future, as well his strategy to turn around Ford’s flagging financial fortunes.
Hinrichs was the executive in charge of Ford’s extensive, aluminum-heavy revamp of the best-selling F-150. Still, sources claim that Fields felt he could take the heat off himself by giving Hinrichs the boot.
When the board met with Fields on May 19th, the exact opposite of what the CEO had hoped to achieve occurred. Sources claim the board made a decision to move on from Fields and his communications adviser Ray Day. Fields’ “resignation” was announced the following Monday.
Hindrichs, on the other hand, walked away with a big promotion. Instead of being shown the door, he was granted a new title: head of global operations, and a much larger presence within the company’s upper echelon. Neither Ford nor Fields has confirmed this is indeed what happened.
In introducing the new CEO on May 22nd, chairman Bill Ford described Fields’ successor in glowing terms, describing how Hackett and himself “always clicked in terms of thinking about the future.â€�[Image: Ford Motor Company]