May 01 - After Alan Mulally, a Ford outsider, helped rescue the auto company, the choice of COO Mark Fields as his successor shows the company is ready to once again promote from within its ranks. Lily Jamali reports.
SOUNDBITE: BILL FORD, CHAIRMAN, FORD MOTOR COMPANY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Alan on behalf of Ford Motor Co, for everything you've done, thank you, you've been absolutely the best." And with that, at a town hall at Ford headquarters, the company made it official. After eight years, CEO Alan Mulally will step down on July 1 and longtime Ford executive Mark Fields will take the helm. Mulally is widely credited with helping rescue Ford in one of its darkest periods, from a company hemorrhaging cash to one that turns a profit. But he was an outsider. This time, they're going with an insider. Board Chairman Bill Ford said that's just how he wanted it: SOUNDBITE: BILL FORD, CHAIRMAN, FORD MOTOR COMPANY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I would have been disappointed had we had to go outside. One of the things I talked about in the beginning was the continuity and the culture remaining the same so my preference would have been to promote from within but if the better person was not from within, then we would have considered that." Ford went on to explain why the board felt an insider like Mark Fields could keep the company on course, after Mulally - who came from Boeing - had such success. SOUNDBITE: BILL FORD, CHAIRMAN, FORD MOTOR COMPANY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Mark was a huge part of bringing Ford back. Look at what he's done. He took over North America which was a basket case before Alan even got here and he was there eight years. It was a really tough slog. A lot of people thought he wouldn't stay but they underestimated his resilience and how much he loves this company." IHS Automotive analyst Stephanie Brinley says Fields' 2012 appointment as Chief Operating Officer offered the first hint that he was next in line: SOUNDBITE: STEPHANIE BRINLEY, ANALYST, HIS AUTOMOTIVE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They've been grooming him for this position for several years. He has the experience within Ford's global division and within the company to keep moving forward." Mulally is widely credited as changing Ford's once-cutthroat executive culture. Brinley says Mulally will be fondly remembered for maintaining stability as Ford made tough choices, like shutting down some sub-brands and selling others. SOUNDBITE: STEPHANIE BRINLEY, ANALYST, IHS AUTOMOTIVE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It was the right thing to do to keep people focused. And I think he also brought a sense of working together that wasn't always present." Thursday, Fields made it clear he plans to carry on with the current leadership structure, as well as the "One Ford" plan Mulally put in place. SOUNDBITE: MARK FIELDS, FORD'S CEO APPOINTEE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's a story of continuity because we've all co-created this." Mulally will not remain on Ford's board of directors. SOUNDBITE: BILL FORD, CHAIRMAN, FORD MOTOR COMPANY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "This was a non-issue because we both believe that good governance is really the outgoing CEO doesn't hang around. I believed it and he believed it so it was really never an issue." No one will replace Fields in his current job as COO.