Born in Oegstgeest, Netherlands, Roelant de Waard earned a masters degree in economics and business from Erasmus University in Rotterdam.
He joined Ford Netherlands in 1990 as a business management supervisor and was appointed sales manager in 1993 and marketing manager two years later.
He moved to Fords headquarters in Dearborn in 1996 to be the carmakers global marketing strategy manager. Two years later de Waard was named marketing plans manager at Fords large vehicle center.
He returned to Ford Netherlands in 1999 as director of operations. In 2001 he was promoted to director of retail management for Ford of Europe. His job was to restructure Fords dealer network and improve customer satisfaction improvement.
A year later he was appointed vice president of Fords European customer service division. He moved to the UK in early 2006 as chairman and managing director of Ford of Britain. He succeeded Roger Putnam.