The new way of doing things is more like Ford Motor's old way. The company historically developed its own talent and promoted Ford lifers. In recent months, homegrown talent such as product chief Phil Martens and new CFO Don Leclair have been promoted at Ford.
After his late 2001 departure, Nasser was followed out the door by prominent recruits Wolfgang Reitzle, chairman of the Premier Automotive Group; Brian Kelley, president of Lincoln Mercury; and Sue Callaway, a former journalist who became general manager of Jaguar in North America.
Ligocki was recruited to Ford in 1998 after she gave a presentation at a meeting attended by Nasser, who was then president of automotive operations, and executive Martin Inglis.
She seems to be leaving the automaker on good terms for a high-profile position. She says she reviewed the Tower offer with Bill Ford and Vice Chairman Allan Gilmour in the weeks before her appointment, and they were supportive. The lure of a CEO role won out.
"This is a chance to run a company, which is something I've wanted to do for a long time," Ligocki says.
Ford Motor is Tower's largest customer, and Tower is one of Ford's 20 largest suppliers. The Grand Rapids, Mich., maker of frames and other components is 19th on the Automotive News ranking of the top 150 suppliers to North America with $2.06 billion in original equipment part sales in 2002.
Ford Motor and Tower butted heads last year when Tower, the frame supplier on the current Ford Explorer, told of its intention to skip the bidding for those components on the next-generation Explorer, citing diminishing profits.