Elena Ford is settling into her role in international operations at Ford Motor Co. The granddaughter of Henry Ford II started working for Executive Vice President David Thursfield in December after a year as Mercury brand manager. She spoke with Staff Reporters Amy Wilson and Julie Cantwell at the convention.
NADA CONVENTION: Elena Ford: International operations post is a big chance
I am in charge of business strategy for international automotive operations. What that means is taking our different positions around the world and making sure we're driving as many synergies as possible across platforms and across brands. So we have different vehicles in Europe than in Asia than in the U.S. than in South America - and how do we leverage our strengths and put platforms and strategies together that are a little bit more cohesive than we have today?
Thursfield needed someone to work with these guys (the heads of the various international operations) and pull things together so everybody wasn't going off in a different direction. And that's basically what I do. We're working on a plan for China. We're also looking at different scenarios for South America. We have all the brands and all the business outside of North America.
Yes, that's my goal.
We haven't defined that yet. How do we share more platforms? That's the kind of thing we're looking at.
I'm not that familiar with what happens outside of the United States. All my positions at Ford have been pretty much in the U.S. The opportunity to grow the automotive business is outside the United States, and where better do you learn about that than working with all the guys driving the business outside of the U.S.? I think it's a huge opportunity.
I won't be very hands-on. I love Lincoln-Mercury dealers. They're great guys, and they deserve a lot of good product because many of them have just Lincoln-Mercury stores. They've had really great Lincoln products coming this year, which has helped them, but they need really good Mercury products, and they'll have that in the next 18 months.
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