Ford's Ex-Investment Banker Leaves as CEO Shakes Up Management

  • Executives leading marketing, quality, human resources retire
  • CEO Hackett makes second shuffle of leadership in five months

A former investment banker Ford Motor Co. hired less than three years ago to develop its strategy for autonomous cars and shared mobility is leaving as part of a broader management shakeup under new Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett.

John Casesa, 55, who had been group vice president of global strategy, is departing Nov. 1, the automaker said in a statement. Prior to Ford, Casesa was senior managing director at Guggenheim Partners, a New York investment banking firm, and an auto analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. He was hired by Mark Fields, who was ousted as Ford chief executive officer in May. A replacement for Casesa wasn’t named.

“We want to thank John for his leadership in growing our global strategy capabilities, particularly related to our progress on mobility, electrification and transportation services,” Hackett said in the statement. “We are clearly focused on delivering smart vehicles, connected to a smart transportation operating system, and have begun building out several of our new business models.”

This is Hackett’s second executive realignment in five months as he works to sharpen Ford’s strategy and improve its “fitness.” He’s already cut his direct reports to eight from the more than 20 who reported to Fields. Hackett is now adding Joy Falotico, head of the Ford Credit unit, to his direct reports as the automaker’s financing division tries to identify new ways to generate revenue as car-sharing and ride-hailing grow.

“The changes we are announcing today will further align resources and improve efficiencies throughout our global markets and operations,” said Hackett, who’s working to win over Wall Street and change the perception Ford is trailing rival General Motors Co. in delivering plans for an autonomous future.

Ford also announced Tuesday the retirements of marketing chief Stephen Odell, 62; top quality executive Bennie Fowler, 61; and Felicia Fields, 52, group vice president of human resources.

Odell, who previously helped lead Ford’s European turnaround, is being replaced by Kumar Galhotra, 51, who will also continue to lead the automaker’s Lincoln luxury line. Ford’s European manufacturing chief Linda Cash, 55, takes over as vice president of quality and new model launch. Executive director of HR for global markets Kiersten Robinson, 47, was named interim HR head.

European purchasing executive Birgit Behrendt, 58, was named to the newly created position of vice president for joint ventures, alliances and commercial affairs. Ford said Behrendt is the highest ranking German national in its European operations and the division’s first German woman to become a company officer.

(Updates with additional executive changes starting in the sixth paragraph.)
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