TOKYO - Mazda Motor Corp. has named a new marketing boss, a new chief of European operations and the youngest Japanese in recent memory to its board.
The changes, which were scheduled to take effect with the annual shareholders meeting in late June, reduce the average age of the board to 52.3 from 54.8 previously.
Mark Fields, 38, becomes senior managing director in charge of marketing, sales and customer service. He had held the title of senior adviser with similar responsibilities.
Fields effectively replaces Ronald Leicht, who left Mazda last year to return to Ford Motor Co., which owns 33.4 percent of Mazda. Before joining Mazda in October 1998, Fields had been a managing director at Ford Argentina SA.
Jan Brentebraten, 47, becomes director in charge of European operations. He has been president of Mazda Motor Europe GmbH, as well as president of Mazda Motor Logistics Europe NV.
Brentebraten previously had been a managing director at Ford Motor Norge A/S and then at Ford Netherlands BV before joining Mazda in October 1996 as a director of Mazda Motors (Deutsch-land) GmbH.
Akira Marumoto, 41, becomes a director and assistant to the officer in charge of quality assurance, as well as general manager of the product quality division. Previously, he had been manager of the program managers division since September 1996, after several years in various chassis and vehicle engineering positions.
Marumoto's appointment, which comes only 19 years after he joined Mazda following his graduation from Keio University with a degree in engineering, is a sign of Mazda's new promotion policies, which focus on merit rather than seniority.
Marumoto is not the only new Japanese director at Mazda who is under age 50. Hideshi Yaomura, 49, becomes director and general manager of the domestic sales division. He had been on loan to Mazda Anfini Tokyo Co., an affiliated dealer.
Masazumi Wakayama, 52, becomes a director and assistant to the officer in charge of marketing, as well as general manager of the marketing division. He had been acting general manager of the unit.
In other promotions within the board, Mutsumi Fujiwara moves up from managing director to senior managing director, still in charge of purchasing. Hitoshi Inoue moves up from director to managing director. He remains general manager of the product development center, where he has overseen the development of the new Miata and the Premacy.
The youth movement at Mazda is even more noticeable with the departure of several older members of Mazda's board.
The exodus is led by Sotoo Tatsumi, 75, a director who has served for nearly two decades as Sumitomo Bank Ltd.'s chief liaison with Mazda.
Among other board members leaving:
Katsuaki Yamamoto, currently a senior managing director, will become president of Toyo Advanced Technologies Co.
Teruo Makino, currently a director, will become senior managing director of Nishikwa Kasei Co.
Katsuhiko Seo, currently a director, will become chairman of Fukuoka Mazda Co., a dealership.
Tadashi Meguro, currently a director, will become vice president of Mazda Anfini Tokyo Co.