Is Samardzich's next stop Ford of Europe CEO?

Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Barb Samardzich will be just the third person to be Ford of Europe COO in the last decade when she starts the job Nov. 1. The other two to hold the post since 2003 were promoted to a CEO job in a year or less.

The COO position was last held in 2008 by Samardzich's current boss, Ford of Europe CEO Stephen Odell.

Odell was No. 2 to John Fleming from May until September before being promoted to Volvo CEO in October 2008.

After the U.S. automaker sold Volvo, Odell was called back to Ford of Europe in 2010. He replaced Fleming, who ceded the role to focus on his other job as the automaker's head of global manufacturing and labor affairs, a post he still holds today.

The other executive to serve as Ford of Europe COO in the last decade was Lewis Booth. He had the job from September 2003 until March 2004, reporting to David Thursfield, who Booth succeeded as Ford of Europe CEO in April 2004.

Booth would rise as high as Ford Motor Co. chief financial officer before retiring in April 2012.

Given Odell's successful stewardship at Ford of Europe during the recession and his age, 58, he easily could follow in Fleming's and Booth's footsteps to a key job at the company's Dearborn headquarters.

That would leave an opening at the top Ford's European operations. What the recent past tells us is that Ford reserves the Europe COO post for people with potential to rise to the next level. At 54 and with a strong background in powertrains and product, Samardzich has to be the front-runner to lead Ford of Europe one day soon.

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