DETROIT -- Mark Fields' biggest management shuffle since taking over as Ford Motor Co. CEO involves a job swap for two key deputies -- Jim Farley and Stephen Odell -- who bring very different strengths to their new roles.
As global sales and marketing chief, Farley has displayed enthusiasm and spawned grand ideas. Odell's broad operational experience and attention to detail helped him lead Ford of Europe through years of severe recession.
The change, which sources told Automotive News had been in the works for a number of months, comes as Ford of Europe nears a return to profitability and with the automaker's global sales achieving record highs.
The switch will give Farley, 52, his first opportunity to run one of Ford's major business units and his first European stint since the 1990s, when he was a fast-rising star at Toyota Motor Corp. His lack of high-level operational experience was seen as a weakness when Ford was evaluating successors to retiring CEO Alan Mulally.
At the same time, Ford will have the well-traveled Odell, 59, in a global role at a time when the Chinese and North American markets are slowing and South American operations have been hit by economic turmoil there.
Odell is "a very talented leader with an incredible business acumen," said Jim O'Sullivan, who worked under Odell at Mazda Motor Corp. and later became its North American CEO.
"He had to handle many markets and brands and was actively involved in our North American growth strategy," O'Sullivan said. "It's good for Ford and good for him."
No 'tear up'
A person with direct knowledge of the thinking behind the move said it was not prompted by any dissatisfaction Fields had with their performance or with the expectation that either would need to "tear up" their predecessor's plans. Farley wanted to expand his operational experience, this person said, while Odell, a 34-year Ford veteran, has a significant marketing background and was open to a move back to the United States.