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Ford is on a high-level hiring spree, and it's no accident

Jordyn Grzelewski, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

Huntsman and Croley are just two of several recent additions to the senior leadership team. Late last year, Suzy Deering joined Ford as head of global marketing after serving as chief marketing officer at eBay, bringing with her a background in technology, data and analytics as Ford looks to reorient its relationship with customers.

And Ford recently tapped Franck Louis-Victor, formerly an executive at French automaker Renault SA, to head up the automaker's new businesses platform. In that role, he's responsible for devising a strategic plan that encompasses both existing and new capabilities in such areas as autonomous vehicles and mobility service. He also oversees new ideas developed via the company's incubator, Ford X.

Open for business

Meanwhile, Ford last month welcomed Doug Power into a newly created position — vice president of corporate development. He came from multinational foods giant General Mills Inc., where he led the company's $8 billion acquisition of the pet food brand Blue Buffalo.

The University of Michigan graduate has spent 25 years in the mergers-and-acquisitions space, including stints at Merrill Lynch and two technology firms.

Now that he's made the move to Ford, Power is focused on beefing up the company's M&A team, developing a cohesive strategy that serves the company's growth plan and proactively identifying deals that fit in with what Ford is trying to accomplish.

"I've been doing M&A now for 25 years and I've been at four different companies," he said in an interview. "This is the clearest strategy a company I've joined has had, and it's also incredibly clear where we can add value from an M&A perspective."

 

Those areas align with Ford's plan. His team, for example, could play a role in connected services by acquiring the necessary software capabilities. Another area of focus, he said, will be Ford Pro, the dedicated commercial vehicle business Ford announced earlier this year. And on electrification, Power sees potential around EV charging and vertical integration of the supply chain.

Ford already has made moves in those areas, for example with its recent acquisition of EV fleet charging provider Electriphi, and with its EV battery-manufacturing joint venture with SK Innovation. There are other parts of the supply chain where Power's team will look for M&A potential.

"We're in the strategy phase of vertical integration right now, with the whole stack under review," he said. "I imagine that over time, in the near term, we will identify at least one or two areas where we're going to decide, 'If we can find the right company, with the right capabilities, the right people, it would be better to own this capability.'"

He emphasized it's not just about closing deals, however, but making proactive, strategic moves. Ford's top leadership, he said, already is behind that approach.

Meanwhile, said CAR chair emeritus Cole, "You never work on a detail outside of the context of the bigger picture. What these announcements from Ford basically say is that, 'We've got to be appropriately plugged into the bigger political picture.' "

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