COVENTRY, England - Ian Callum was stunned by the sudden death of Jaguar design chief Geoff Lawson last June 24.
Lawson was a good friend, and the loss deeply affected Callum.
What Callum didn't realize was the implications Lawson's death would have on his own life.
A couple of weeks later, Callum received a phone call from Ford design chief J. Mays asking him if he would take Lawson's place.
Callum, 45, had been design chief for TWR Design since 1990. He also had a lucrative consulting business. His design signature is on vehicles such as Aston Martin's DB7, Vantage V12 and Project Vantage concept car.
Had Lawson merely retired or been promoted to a different job, Callum would have had no problem immediately accepting Mays' offer. But because of the death, Callum told Mays he needed time to think it over.
Callum also hesitated because he loved his life as a free-lance consultant and as chief designer at TWR Design.
He had worked at Ford from 1979-90.
'In my own mind, I didn't want to go back, not out of any disregard for Ford, but I just don't like going back.
'I was nervous about what kind of culture I was coming into.' His initial impression after a short time on the job is one of relief: 'I would have to say it's a Jaguar culture ... absolutely.'
Beyond coming up with new designs, Callum faces an organizational challenge, a task he does not underestimate.
'There's a proliferation of programs coming up in the next few years, and I need to get total design organization - a situation where we can manage those programs,' he said.
At the time of his death, Lawson and his team had just completed the design of the forthcoming baby Jaguar, known as the X400. So Callum - to his relief - does not have to come into the middle of a major, half-finished project.
His first real projects will be the redesigns of Jaguar's XK sports car and XJ sedans. Callum believes his task is not only to continue Lawson's work but to take Jaguar forward as it grows exponentially.
'You've got to build a visual bridge so people know where a car stands,' Callum said. 'If you buy an S-Type, you can relate to what type of car this is. It's not a huge Jaguar. It's a sports sedan.'