DETROIT – Leadership changes at Ford Motor Co. make Jim Padilla perhaps the most powerful No. 2 in the auto industry.
The incoming Ford president will have sweeping oversight over the automaker’s global operations.
Though CEO Bill Ford has ultimate authority and leads the automaker’s turnaround efforts, he has relied heavily on the counsel of Padilla and other Ford Motor veterans.
With the February 1 retirement of current President Nick Scheele and Vice Chairman Allan Gilmour, the role of Bill Ford’s key adviser goes to Padilla.
The 58-year-old becomes president and chief operating officer and joins Ford’s board of directors in February.
Scheele detailed the division of labor to be expected between Bill Ford and his new No. 2.
“Bill is heavily involved in strategic issues. Bill is heavily involved in external issues,” Scheele says. “And Jim is heavily involved in day-by-day management and internal issues.”
Scheele led turnaround campaigns at Jaguar and Ford of Europe.
He moved to Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, southwest of Detroit, in 2001 and helped Bill Ford after the ouster of CEO Jacques Nasser.
Padilla will be supported by a cast of younger executives in their 40s and early 50s. They are candidates to succeed Padilla or even Bill Ford, says Scheele, who helped the CEO put his new team in place.
The class of young leaders includes such people as European chief Mark Fields, Asia-Pacific chief Mark Schulz and North American chief Greg Smith.
Other major moves at Ford include a changing role for product chief Phil Martens, 44, who says he has been asked by Padilla to take a more global role in Ford Motor’s product-development organization.