(WJBK) - Ford underwent a major leadership change Monday just less than a week after the automaker announced major cuts to its white collar workforce.
"He's really a proven transformational leader. He's a visionary thinker. He and I think very much alike," said Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford.
Jim Hackett is replacing Mark Fields, who is retiring after 28 years with Ford with the last three as president and CEO.
"Mark had a tremendous career at Ford and did great things," Bill Ford said. "If I just look at the last few years under his leadership, we've had record profitability and cash flow and really, really solid results."
But also over the last few years, Ford's stock price is down 40 percent since Fields took over and just last week Ford announced a 10 percent cut to its salaried workforce in North America and Asia -- that's 1, 400 jobs.
"I think Felds was under enormous pressure. We know that two weeks ago, the board scheduled extra time for him to explain what his turnaround plan was going to be. A week after that, they announced that they were going to let 1,400 employees go. I think the board said this is not the kind of action we were looking for and they decided he was no longer the guy to run the company," said John McElroy of Autoline Daily.
Hackett has gone from building the future in office furniture at Steelcase to hiring Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan to leading Ford Smart Mobility.
"A time of great change in my mind requires a transformational leader and thankfully we have that in Jim," Bill Ford said.
Mcelroy says mobility -- a future with autonomous vehicles -- is the future of transportation, and it's a frightening one for the traditional automobile industry.
"Look, this industry is headed for massive disruption and it's all about this mobility stuff. Maybe people stop buying cars and start buying rides when they need them and we could see a massive drop off in car sales," he said.
Bill Ford says Hackett will be charged with re-energizing the business and modernizing the business -- exploring the roles of artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, robotics, boosting morale and making decisions faster in this ever-changing landscape.
"The future is really a source of optimism for both of us," Hackett said.
"This is the blue oval. This is how are moving forward as a company and not as several separate companies." Bill Ford said.