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Ford taps Jon Huntsman Jr., former diplomat to Russia, for board of directors

By Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

Jon Huntsman Jr., who ran against Mitt Romney in 2012 for the GOP presidential nomination, has rejoined the board of directors at Ford Motor Co., the company announced Thursday.

Huntsman, 60, was first elected to be a Ford director in 2012. He stepped off the board in September 2017 to become a senior diplomat to Russia for two years under President DonaldTrump. Huntsman had served as U.S. ambassador to China from 2009-2011 under then-President Barack Obama, and previously ambassador to Singapore under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Huntsman is widely praised by industry observers for his depth of perspective.

"In a time of global competitiveness, with a clear need for cultural understanding and positive international relations, it is a good choice to have someone with such experience," said Melissa Bradley, a business professor at Georgetown University, "Mr. Huntsman's skills for global policy, diplomacy and cultural competency will be a competitive advantage for Ford."

Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University, said Ford made the right choice at the right time.

"Bringing Huntsman back infuses the board with quantum experience and connection in the international markets," Masters said. "It will help position Ford to exploit emerging opportunities that might otherwise go untapped. Competing in a rapidly changing global economy within a vortex of cross currents requires having people on the board who can both see the big picture and get things done on the ground level."

Market analyst Jon Gabrielsen said Huntsman will help Ford overseas.

"Jon M. Huntsman Jr. is an excellent re-addition to the Ford board of directors, which can use as much outside thinking as it can possibly get. His intimate knowledge of China and his connections there will hopefully help guide Ford's very difficult situation there," Gabrielsen said.

Ford touted Huntsman's extensive experience in the company news release. He served two years as a deputy U.S. trade representative under President George W. Bush. His public career began as a White House staff assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

 

"Huntsman negotiated or brokered dozens of trade and investment agreements in Asia Pacific and Africa," the Ford release said.

Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in prepared remarks, "I'm thrilled that we will again benefit from Jon's extraordinary experience, insights and relationships. His career and accomplishments in global policy and trade are incomparable."

At Ford, Huntsman will serve on the board's Nominating and Governance, Compensation, and Sustainability and Innovation committees.

In September, he also returned to the Chevron board of directors.

Huntsman has extensive experience in government and politics in addition to his national and international roles. The people of Utah elected Huntsman governor in 2004 and 2008. Before going into public service, he was an executive of Huntsman Corporation, a global chemicals company. Huntsman is a University of Pennsylvania graduate with a degree in international politics.

The Ford board of directors consists of 14 members; three women and 11 men.

Its cross-town rival General Motors has an 11-member board; six women and five men.

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